While farmers and political leaders expressed disappointment over the reduced allocation for the state, they said the Board was a silver lining.

TN reacts to SCs Cauvery verdict Set up water management board soonCauvery near Mettur damn. Rsrikanth05/Wiki Commons
news Cauvery verdict Friday, February 16, 2018 - 14:45

The Supreme Court announced its final verdict on the contentious Cauvery river water dispute on Friday. It reduced the amount of water Tamil Nadu will receive from Karnataka – the upper riparian state – by 14.75 tmc ft.

Now, TN will receive 177.25 tmc ft water, while Karnataka was allocated 284.75 tmc ft. Bengaluru was allocated 4.75 tmc ft water for its drinking water requirements.

After the verdict, the overall sentiment in Tamil Nadu is that of disappointment – farmers believe that this will adversely affect irrigation in the state. They also want the TN government to take action to counter the court order.  

Worried farmers

Dheiva Sigamani, State President, Tamil Farmers Union, called the verdict an unfavourable one. “We are losing 14.75 tmc ft, which will affect 10% of the local farmland. That’s 3 lakh acres,” he said.

He accused the TN government of not fighting the case strongly, and insisted that they should not settle for the verdict. “This judgment is favourable to Karnataka,” he rued.

Valnivalam Seran, a farmer from Nagapattinam, said that this verdict was like a “punishment” for them – they had only just been managing with the 192 tmc ft water TN had been getting earlier. “Half our crops were damaged last year because of the scarcity of water. We have been struggling like this for two years. I don’t know how we will manage now,” he complained.

Election politics?  

AIADMK spokesperson KC Palaniswami told TNM that this is big setback for Tamil Nadu, and possibly a result of the politics in Karnataka.

“The BJP wants to win in Karnataka – that’s why the judgment is in its favour,” he said. The state is set to hold Assembly polls in late April or early May.

Ravikumar, the spokesperson of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, held a similar view.

“I don't want to interpret this judgment politically, but it can be understood politically because the polls are coming up and the BJP will have an advantage. The Karnataka government presented their case very well, especially with regard to Bengaluru’s water scarcity. TN government didn't take the case seriously," he said.

DMK’s Working President Stalin said the verdict was a “huge shock”.

"The verdict has come as a huge shock to the people of Tamil Nadu, especially the farmers. It is saddening and has happened mainly due to the carelessness of the TN government, as they did not make a strong case in court. As much as the verdict is favourable to the people of Karnataka, it is injustice to the people of Tamil Nadu,” he said. 

He added, “Whether it was the interim order of the tribunal or the final order of the tribunal, Kalaignar has done so much for Tamil Nadu but all the rights that he got for us have been lost by horse-trading government.”

According to him, the state government should call for an emergency all party meeting along with the farmers of the state, to discuss further action.

Setting up the water management board

Both AIADMK and DMK spokespersons emphasised the need for the Cauvery Management Board to be set up in a timely manner. TN has asked for such a board earlier as well, but it was opposed by Karnataka.

“The Supreme Court should also give deadlines for the setting up of the water management board, otherwise the Centre may do it according to their political agenda. We will wait for the full court order, consult a legal team and then take action accordingly,” Palaniswami said.

DMK spokesperson Saravanan also said that the verdict was a disappointing one. “We will have to assess the impact of the reduced water supply. We hope the Centre doesn't play petty politics and sets up the board soon,” he added.

A Navaneethakrishnan, the TN government’s counsel in the Cauvery water dispute, told ANI, “We believe in verdict of the court and respect it. Surely, this is not enough. We have raised the [issue of] shortfall of water with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, who has two plans to address the issue, one of which is linking river Godavari with Kallanai.”

'Maintain peace between states'

Actor-politician Kamal Haasan also reacted to the verdict. Calling the verdict ‘disappointing’, he appealed for peace between TN and Karnataka.

He added that the even though TN is getting 14.75 tmc ft less water now, we should work to conserve it.

“Instead of letting politicians meddle with this for votes, we should be careful and maintain amity between the two states. We should not fight, but come to a solution peacefully,” he told media persons on Friday.

He also lauded the Supreme Court observation that river water could not be owned by any state. “It is a consoling factor,” he observed.

Kamal added said that the Cauvery Management Board should be set up at the earliest with equal representation from both states.

"The people of TN and the farmers know who has betrayed them. We must put pressure on the centre and appeal further in the Supreme Court," he said.

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