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Congress issues whip for special Karnataka session on water release

Bengaluru, Oct 2 (IANS) Karnataka’s ruling Congress on Sunday issued whip to its lawmakers to attend the special joint session of the state legislature on Monday to decide on the Supreme Court order to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.

“Chief whip Ashok Pattan has issued the whip directing our legislators in the assembly and council to be present in Vidhana Soudha on Monday and participate in the discussion on the apex court order,” a party source told IANS.

The cabinet on Saturday decided to convene the day-long session after an all-party meeting urged the state government not to release the river water at any cost as it is required for drinking purpose in the region.

A division bench of the top court on Friday directed the state to release 6,000 cusecs per day for a week from October 1-6.

“As the resolution to utilise the scarce water in the four dams across the river basin for drinking purpose was unanimously passed in the council and the assembly at a special session on September 23, only the legislature has to decide on how best to use the resource,” said the party official.

Deficit monsoon rains this year led to the lowest storage of water in the four reservoirs of Kabini, KRS, Harangi and Hemavathy across the river basin in the state’s southern region.

“The reservoirs has collectively 27 tmc (thousand million cubic) feet of water, which is barely sufficient to meet the drinking needs of the people in cities, towns and villages in the region,” said the source.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah meanwhile regretted that Karnataka was being portrayed as a “villain” for not releasing the water without ascertaining the ground realities in a distress situation.

“The Supreme Court is unable to understand the crisis we are facing due to deficit rains in the catchment areas of the reservoirs. When we are not able to release water for our farmers, how can we do for irrigation in the neighbouring state,” he said at a Gandhi Jayanti function here.

Noting that his government was bound by the legislative resolution – not to draw water for any purpose other than drinking needs, the chief minister said it was unfortunate the apex court was repeatedly asking the state to release water despite explaining the distress situation.

“We can’t obey an order which is not helpful to the people. We don’t intend to disrespect the Supreme Court nor defy its order but we are in a precarious situation to conserve whatever water we have for drinking purpose only,” he added.

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