Chennai, Feb 20 (IANS) Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa Wednesday said the gazette notification of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal final award was the culmination of 22 years of struggle to get Tamil Nadu a fair share of the river water flowing from Karnataka.
Terming the notification a "birthday gift" (her birthday falls Feb 24), Jayalalithaa said it was a "big personal achievement in her 30 years of political life".
She said for the first time in 30 years in politics, she was experiencing "a sense of fulfillment and achievement". She said the gazette notification wss a "great victory for me and my government".
According to her, the state had permanently secured its rights to the Cauvery river water.
Flashing a copy of the gazette notification, Jayalalithaa said it marked the end of a 22-year-long struggle that began in 1991 when she first became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu.
In June 1991, a day after she took charge of Tamil Nadu, the Cauvery Tribunal gave its interim award, which was challenged by Karnataka in the apex court.
Karnataka also passed a law to nullify the tribunal's interim award.
She said it was under her orders that Tamil Nadu approached the Supreme Court, which struck down Karnataka's law.
"The next hurdle was notification of the interim award in the gazette by the central government. The central government was reluctant to do that."
Tamil Nadu again approached the apex court. In December 1991 the interim order was notified in the gazette.
According to her, it was a long struggle to get water from Karnataka.
Recalling her four-day fast in 1993, demanding release of Cauvery water, she said the union minister for water resources said a mechanism to share the river water would be set up.
Following that, the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) and Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC) came up.
"In the past few years the central government was reluctant to convene a meeting of the CRA. We had to approach the Supreme Court," she said.
Referring to the gazette notification of the final order, Jayalalithaa said: "Now it becomes binding on Karnataka."
She added that Karnataka should release water as per the award during normal times and during distres times, the water must be shared as per the distress formula.
Political parties in Tamil Nadu welcomed the gazette notification.
Communist Party of India's D. Pandian told IANS: "Certainly the Tamil Nadu chief minister can claim credit for this measure. It was she who approached the apex court, forcing the central government to gazette the tribunal's order."
But DMK president M. Karunanidhi listed out the actions taken by his government and party in securing the Cauvery water and thanked the central government and the Supreme Court.
BJP's Tamil Nadu chief Pon Radhakrishnan told IANS: "It is a big victory for the people of Tamil Nadu. The central government could have done this even six years back."