The Karnataka government today deferred till tomorrow a decision on release of 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu as per the Supreme Court direction and decided to await the outcome of the meeting of the Chief Ministers of the two states, scheduled Thursday.
The Supreme Court in its order on Tuesday had directed Karnataka to release 6000 cusecs of water for three days, starting Wednesday.
Karnataka Chief Minister S Siddaramaiah had called a Cabinet meeting today where the decision to defer the release of water was taken.
"We have deferred decision on release till tomorrow... We will see the outcome (of the meeting) and then decide on the next step," Siddaramaiah told reporters here after a marathon sitting of the Cabinet preceded by an all-party meeting.
The opposition parties in the state including the BJP and JDS had asked the Siddaramaiah government not to release the water.
Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti has convened a meeting of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu ministers tomorrow to find a political solution to the "impasse" over Cauvery water dispute.
Siddaramaiah said he would attend the meeting and would explain the ground realities, including the storage levels in the four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin, and the state's difficulties at tomorrow's meeting of the two riparian states convened by the Centre to thrash out a solution amid the raging row.
"I will attend the meeting and put forward our case. Let us see what will come out of the meeting," he said.
His Tamil Nadu counterpart J Jayalalithaa, currently recuperating at a Chennai hospital, will depute state PWD Minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy to represent the state in the discussion.
The Supreme Court had yesterday asked Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water in the next three days despite the unanimous assembly resolution to use the water only for drinking purpose.
"We are sure that the state of Karnataka shall obey the order without any kind of impediment, obstruction or any other attitude till we take up the matter on September 30," a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit had said.
Asked about the specific mention in the order that there should not be any impediment or obstruction, Siddaramaiah said, "we are aware of it. We are also aware of the resolution of the legislature and suggestions made by the Opposition parties."
The apex court had also asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to facilitate a meeting of the executive heads of the two warring riparian states with the Centre over the next two days to find a solution to the dispute.
"Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti to chair a meeting tomorrow on Cauvery with CM of Karnataka and PWD Minister of Tamil Nadu," tweeted Union Water Resources Ministryspokesperson Samir Sinha.
Ministers in charge of water resources departments and chief secretaries of the two states will also be present in the meeting.
The Union minister will attempt to resolve the issue "amicably" keeping in view the series of protests and violence which erupted in the two states last month after the Supreme Court's orders on the issue, an official source said.
The Karnataka government has been expressing its inability to release the quantum of water as directed by the apex court, saying its four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin do not have adequate storage and is struggling to even meet its own drinking water requirement.
In an unprecedented move in the more than century-long Cauvery dispute with the neighbouring state, both the Legislative Assembly and the Council on September 23 had adopted the resolution not to provide water for any other purpose except to meet drinking needs, citing "acute distress" and "alarmingly low levels" in its dams.