Cauvery talks fail as Karnataka refuses to release more water



Talks between the chief ministers of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on sharing the Cauvery river water failed Thursday, as Karnataka declined to release any more water due to depleting levels in its drought-hit reservoirs.

"The Karnataka government has refused to release any more (Cauvery) water though we requested its chief minister (Jagadish Shettar) for releasing 32 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water for the next 15 days to help our farmers," Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa told reporters after an hour-long talks with her Karnataka counterpart here.

Disappointed over the failure to find an amicable solution, Jayalalithaa said her government counsel would inform the Supreme Court Friday about the outcome of the talks, which were held as suggested on Monday by the division bench of the apex court.

"We will approach the Supreme Court tomorrow (Friday) again for directing Karnataka to release additional water due for us to save the standing (samba) crops," Jayalalitha said.

Expressing inability to spare more water, Shettar said the state was not in a position to meet Tamil Nadu's demand, as a severe drought, a weak (south-west) monsoon and deficit rainfall in the catchment areas of the river basin have led to drastic fall in the rain-fed reservoirs.

"We need to look at our requirement before sharing with Tamil Nadu. As we need water for our farmers, we cannot give more to Tamil Nadu," Shettar said.

Earlier in the day, Jayalalithaa flew in to the Karnataka capital by a chartered aircraft with a 10-member delegation, including Tamil Nadu Public Works Minister K.V. Ramalingam, her state Chief Secretary Debendranath Sarangi and other officials for the talks.

Shettar was assisted by state's Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath and officials of the water resources and agriculture departments.

Severe drought, a weak south-west monsoon and deficit rainfall in the river basin resulted in water levels depleting in the reservoirs across the old Mysore region, leading to agitation by farmers in Karnataka against release of additional water to Tamil Nadu since September.

Hearing Tamil Nadu's petition for directing Karnataka to release 52.8 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of Cauvery water till February to save the standing samba crops in the delta region, a division bench of the apex court headed by Justice D.K. Jain and Justice Madan B. Lokur Monday advised the chief ministers to meet and find an amicable solution in the interests of farmers of both the states.

But the talks failed. - IANS