BJP, JD(S) politicising Cauvery issue, says Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah

PTI, Sep 26, 2023, 2:36 PM IST

Accusing opposition BJP and JD(S) of politicising the Cauvery row, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday rejected allegations that his government has failed on the issue, and said his administration has never lagged behind in protecting the interests of the state, its people and farmers.

He reiterated the importance of the distress water sharing formula and the construction of a Mekedatu balancing reservoir across Cauvery river as the resolution for the dispute with neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

The Bengaluru bandh called by farmers and Kannada organisations and backed by the BJP and JD(S) on Tuesday in protest against the release of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu evoked partial response, with most of the public services functioning normally, but many people staying indoors.

”It is most unfortunate that BJP and JD(S) are potlicising the Cauvery issue. They are doing it for the sake of politics and not in the interest of the state or its people,” Siddaramaiah said in response to a question.

Speaking to reporters here, he said everyone has the right to protest and call for bandh in a democracy, but the court has restricted processions and bandh, and hence prohibitory orders under section 144 have been invoked, aimed at ensuring that nobody takes the law into their own hands and that the public are not put to any difficulty.

”Let them protest, we are not opposed to it. But the issue should not be politicised and used for political gains. It is not in the interest of the state,” he added.

To a reported remark by JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy calling Karnataka Congress the ‘B team’ of the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu, Siddaramaiah asked what would he call the BJP (the new alliance partner of the JD-S), which was in alliance with the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu until recently.

One should not speak for the sake of politics, he said. ”Former PM and JD(S) chief H D Deve Gowda has written a letter to the Prime Minister seeking intervention to resolve the Cauvery issue. I have welcomed it, But alleging that the state government has failed on the issue is politics.” The state government has never lagged behind in protecting the interests of the state, its people and farmers, he said, ”For us, power is not important, the interests of the people is important. We believe strongly in it.” Pointing out that so far there has been no distress formula on sharing Cauvery during drought years, the CM said, ”We have been seeking a distress formula. We have been pressuring the Supreme Court on this and before the tribunal also.

”When there is a deficit of rain, there will be distress in both states. In such a situation we have to share the distress, for which a distress formula is needed,” he said.

The other solution is building the Mekedatu balancing reservoir, which will have a storage capacity of 67 tmc (thousand million cubic feet) water, Siddaramaiah said. When there is excess rain, water can be stored there and utilised during distress years to release it to Tamil Nadu. It will help both states, he added.

Noting that his government has requested for a team of central experts to visit the state and give a report on the ground situation — H D Deve Gowda too made such a request to the PM recently after the new alliance between BJP and JD(S) — he said, ”There has been no response to my letter so far…ask BJP which has 25 MPs to put pressure on the PM on this.” Karnataka has been advocating since the beginning that the issues should be resolved through discussion out of court, Siddaramaiah said, adding, that ”for this Prime Minister should intervene”.

To a question on BJP and JD(S) alleging that the government has failed to put forward its argument effectively in court, the CM pointed out that it is the same legal team engaged during their tenure that has been engaged now. ”Despite effective arguments, the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee and Management Authority has ordered us to release 5,000 cusecs (cubic feet of water per second) for 15 days. We will place our argument effectively next when the matter comes up before them,” he said.

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