The Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) has directed Karnataka to release water to Tamil Nadu for five more days. A meeting of the CWRC took place in Bengaluru on Thursday, headed by Chairman Navin Kumar. The decision comes even as the Krishnarajasagar and Kabini dams in the state have seen below average inflows. As of August 1, the storage level of the Krishnarajasagar dam was 8.51 tmc ft, 33.91 tmc ft below last year's level (42.42 tmc ft) for the corresponding period. Levels at the Kabini stood at 9.60 tmc ft while it was 15.13 tmc ft during the same time last year.
The CWRC said in a press note, “The committee discussed about the (water) releases to be made from Krishnarajasagar and Kabini dams of Karnataka for ensuring flows at Biligundulu. Having noted that the flows have been below normal, it was decided that the State of Karnataka would continue to release water from its reservoirs viz., Krishnarajasagar and Kabini for the next five days in proportion to the inflows into the reservoir of Karnataka.” It added that the position would be reviewed in the next meeting tentatively fixed for August 8 in New Delhi.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Lok Sabha passed the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill that seeks to replace the multiple water dispute tribunals in the country with a single tribunal of different benches. Water Resources Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat announced in parliament that final verdicts will be delivered within a period of two years under the new amendments.
Even as the debate on the Bill was underway in the Lok Sabha, the DMK's Chennai Central MP Dayanidhi Maran asked about remedial measures when a state was in contempt. “If you see the Cauvery water problem, Karnataka has always been in contempt of court. There is no jal shakti. What are you going to do when Karnataka is in contempt? Do you have any powers? Are you speaking anything about that? There is a habitual offender. At the time of the crisis and when there is a distress, water has to be shared and for that, a formula has been given by the Tribunal. That formula has not been executed. We, in the month of June, our farmers were struggling to get water. We are not getting water. So, what shall we do?” he asked.
To this, Mandya MP Sumalatha Ambareesh said that Karnataka too was drought-hit. “I would like to place a few facts. The full reservoir level of Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) Dam is 124.8 feet. But this year due to insufficient rainfall the water level is between 85 to 86 feet. The level in the same month of 2018 was 124 feet. So, there is no disputing the fact that my State, at present, is drought-hit and there is no drinking water in more than150 talukas at present. So, the question arises as to how and from where the water should be released,” she said.