Signalling its inability to spare Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu as per the Supreme Court direction, a special session of the Karnataka legislature today adopted an unanimous resolution to use the water only to meet drinking water needs and not to provide it for any other purpose.
“An impossible situation wherein it is not possible to comply with a court (order) has been created,” Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said in his reply, maintaining that the state was in “severe distress” and struggling to meet even the drinking water needs in the Cauvery basin.
The resolution did not refer to the apex Court direction to the state to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu from September 21 to 27 but is expected to put Karnataka on a collision course with the judiciary.
Siddaramaiah said “nobody should construe as if we are challenging the Supreme Court” and added that his government had equal respect for all the three organs — legislature, executive and judiciary, “more so for judiciary.”
“People have given us a mandate. We cannot defy it,” he said, adding, otherwise, “it would be a dereliction of duty on our part.”
Prefacing his remarks on the water crisis in the state, he said, “we have great respect for the judiciary. The intention is not to disobey the judicial order. We will not think of it even in our dreams.”
Highlighting the “state of acute distress”, the resolution, endorsed by all parties, said it was “imperative” that the government ensures that no water from the present storages be drawn “save and except” for meeting drinking water needs of villages and towns in the Cauvery basin and Bengaluru.
The interests of the inhabitants of the state are likely to be gravely jeopardised if water in the four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin was in anyway reduced other than for meeting the drinking water needs of the people in the Cauvery basin, including the entire city of Bengaluru, it said.
The resolution moved in English by Opposition BJP leader Jagadish Shettar and in Kannada by Y S V Datta of JDS pointed out that the combined storage in four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin — Krishnaraja Sagar, Hemavathy, Harangi and Kabini — had reached “alarmingly low levels at 27 TMC ft.”
“It is now resolved to direct that in this state of acute distress, it is imperative that the government ensures that no water from the present storages be drawn save and except for meeting drinking water requirements of villages and towns in the Cauvery basin and Bengaluru,” it said.