New Delhi: Central ministers from Karnataka and ruling BJP parliament members from the state met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday and urged him to allow the state immediately stop release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, who hails from the Cauvery basin district of Mandya, Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, Minister of State for Railways K.H. Muniyappa and state Congress leader H.K. Patil briefed the prime minister on the "grim" drought situation in the state.
Kharge told reporters after the meeting that they appealed to the prime minister "to resolve the problem at the earliest".
"The situation is very grim. Hence, we urged the prime minister to resolve the situation," Kharge said.
Karnataka has been appealing to the prime minister to withdraw his Sep 19 ruling he gave as head of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) to release 9,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu daily from Sep 20 to Oct 15.
Karnataka says it cannot release the water as it is facing the worst drought in 40 years and water in the Cauvery reservoirs were just adequate to meet its own needs.
However, the state has been releasing 9,000 cusecs daily from Sep 29 after the Supreme Court Sep 28 rapped it for not obeying the CRA directive.
Krishna had written to the prime minister last Saturday that "the entire state (Karnataka) is waiting with bated breath to get immediate relief as otherwise it will spell disaster for the population in the Cauvery basin".
Kharge said the team informed Manmohan Singh about the drinking water needs of Bangalore, Mandya, Hassan and Mysore and water requirement for the standing crops in the Cauvery basin area in the state.
Muniyappa said the monsoon was over (June to September) in Karnataka whereas it would begin soon in Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu receives most of its rains during the northeast monsoon (October to December).
A delegation of 16 BJP parliament members from Karnataka also met Manmohan Singh, pleading with him to provide immediate relief to the state.
Bangalore South Lok Sabha member and BJP general secretary H.N. Ananth Kumar told reporters after the meeting that the delegation informed the prime minister that Tamil Nadu had sufficient water and did not need water from Karnataka.
He said the delegation urged the prime minister to immediately stay his Sep 19 directive to Karnataka to release the water.
Meanwhile, the Cauvery Monitoring Committee is expected to meet in New Delhi Oct 11 to consider the report of two teams of central government officials which visited Karnataka and Tamil Nadu Friday and Saturday to assess the situation in the two states.
Earlier Monday, Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar met Krishna in New Delhi seeking his help to prevail upon the central government to provide relief to the state over Cauvery water release to Tamil Nadu.
Water release to Tamil Nadu has led to daily protests in Bangalore and the Cauvery basin districts of Mandya, Mysore and Chamarajanagar. From Bangalore, Mandya is 80 km, Mysore is 130 km and Chamarajanagar about 200 km.
Karnataka also observed a day-long shutdown Saturday, protesting the water release.
Karnataka has declared 150 of the state's 176 taluks or revenue subdivisions as drought hit. It says the drought is the worst in 40 years and water in the reservoirs across the Cauvery river is just adequate to meet its needs till the monsoon returns next June.
Besides Cauvery basin districts, Bangalore also is heavily dependent on Cauvery water.
Of its requirement of around 1,350 million litres daily (MLD), about 950 MLD is drawn from the Cauvery river, which has its source in Talacauvery in Kodagu district, about 330 km from Bangalore, and traverses over 800 km through Karnataka and Tamil Nadu before flowing into the Bay of Bengal.