Bangalore, June 3: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah yesterday said the state could not release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu as reservoirs across the river basin were nearly dry following severe drought.
"As water levels in all the four reservoirs across the Cauvery river basin are below minimum due to severe drought over the past two years in the catchment areas, there is no question of releasing any water to Tamil Nadu for the time being," Siddaramaiah told reporters on the margins of a function at Sindanur in Raichur district, about 400 km from here.
The reservoirs are Hemavathy, Harangi, Kabini and KRS (Krishna Raja Sagar) across Hassan, Mandy and Mysore districts.
Observing that the state government was facing difficulty in meeting the water needs of its own people for drinking and irrigation, Siddaramaih hoped the situation would improve in the coming weeks as signs of the southwest monsoon setting in were bright.
"It is a great relief to learn from the state meteorological office that the monsoon would be active this season. As several parts in the state are being blessed with pre-monsoon showers over the last couple of days, we hope the monsoon would be kind to us this time with bountiful rains to meet our needs first," Siddaramaiah said.
The Tamil Nadu government has urged Karnataka to release 1.2 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of water during the first 20 days of June as per the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal award.
"If the monsoon is normal and we get plenty of rains in the catchment areas, there will be sufficient water to fill the reservoirs for distribution. We have to see how the monsoon plays out this season. Indications are we will have a normal monsoon. If there is enough water for us and others, we will have no problem in releasing water to Tamil Nadu," Siddaramaiah said.
The chief minister has convened an all-party meeting Tuesday in Bangalore to discuss the state's stand on the implementation of the tribunal award following the first meeting of the Cauvery supervisory committee Saturday in New Delhi as directed by the Supreme Court last month.
Union water resources secretary and panel chairman S.K. Sarkar convened another meeting June 12 in New Delhi to discuss Tamil Nadu's demand for releasing water to meet the irrigation requirement of its farmers in the delta region.
As estimated by the tribunal, Tamil Nadu will requires 1.2 TMC of water during the first 20 days of June for nursery cultivation of kuruvai paddy, while Karnataka needs 0.9 TMC.
"The live storage in all the four reservoirs across the Cauvery basin in Karnataka is 3.77 TMC as on May 31 while the corresponding live storage at Mettur in Tamil Nadu is 3.73 TMC," Sarkar said in an order after the Saturday meeting.