Amid heavy protests in Karnataka after the Supreme Court’s directive to the state government to release water from the Cauvery River to neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said his government will release the water “with a heavy heart.”
"As we cannot defy a constitutional body like the Supreme court, with a heavy heart we have decided to release the water as directed by the apex court,” Siddaramaiah told reporters on Tuesday night after nearly a three-hour long all-party meeting convened by him in Bengaluru.
The Chief Minister, however, did not give an exact date or time as to when the water will be released.
He said that the state will "try" to get enough and more water for the farmers in the Cauvery basin apart from providing drinking water to the districts which depend on the river.
He also said the state would approach the Supreme Court with a modification petition explaining the its difficulties in implementing its order, directing release of 15,000 cusecs per day to Tamil Nadu for next ten days, and seeking change in it and also move the Cauvery Supervisory Committee.
The Chief Minister said it would be “difficult” for a Constitution-bound state to defy the Supreme Court order or to refuse release of water.
Scores of farmers in Karnataka are today protesting against the Supreme Court’s directive to the state government to release 15,000 cusec of water from the Cauvery river to neighbouring Tamil Nadu for 10 days.
Protesters burnt tyres and blocked Bengaluru-Mysuru highway. As a safety measure, the Karnataka government pulled off around 700 buses from the roads. Buses travelling between both the states were also stopped by the protestors and a bus was damaged in Tamil Nadu.
Seeking to assuage the feelings of protesting farmers in the Cauvery heartland of Mandya and other districts in the basin, Siddaramaiah said all efforts would be made to provide drinking water to Bengaluru and other places as also for crops.
He appealed to farmers to maintain peace and tranquility and not to cause any damage to public property.
In Tamil Nadu, farmers from the Delta region expressed unhappiness, claiming 15,000 cusec was inadequate for their farming needs and described it as “too little too late”.
Tamil Nadu state transport buses were halted at the Hosur Border Bus Stand due to protests in Karnataka. Krishna Raja Sagara Dam and Brindavan Gardens were closed to the public for four days. Hundreds of buses were taken off the roads in Bengaluru-Mysore section and between Chennai and Bengaluru.
Farmers, traders, students and political leaders have called for a shut down in Karnataka’s Mandya district today in protest against the apex court order, which will deplete the water level in the Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) reservoir further, affecting supply to fields and taps.
Mandya district, the nucleus of Cauvery politics, saw a bandh with protesters holding road blockades and dharnas at several places, as hundreds of security personnel, including Central forces, were deployed in the Cauvery belt to maintain law and order.
Prohibitory orders have been clamped around Krishnarajasagar Dam and entry of visitors to it prohibited till September 9, as the Cauvery row hotted up after the Supreme Court direction to Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu for the next 10 days to address the plight of the farmers there.
According to the state water resources department, due to deficient rainfall during the southwest monsoon this year, the four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin have only 55 per cent of the water.
One thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of water is equivalent to 28,317 million litres of water. A cusec, which is a measure of flow rate of water per second, is equivalent to a flow of 28.317 litres per second.
The top court had on Monday also directed both the states to make a representation before the supervisory committee which would later tell the court about the ground reality.