Bengaluru, Aug 27: Karnataka today maintained that it was not possible for it to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu given the "severe distress" faced by it as an all-party meeting decided that the Supreme Court be apprised of the "ground reality".
"Tamil Nadu has sought release of 50 TMC ft of water. Can it be given? No. From where can we give it. No," said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah after consulting leaders of Opposition parties who endorsed the government's stand.
Siddaramaiah said the Tamil Nadu government had approached the apex court pleading it to direct Karnataka to release 50 TMC ft as per the normal (water) year but "today, there is no normal year in Karnataka".
"We are facing a severe distress year. Both the states should share the distress pro rata. That is the principle we have followed so far and the court has also given a direction like this based on the ground reality," he said.
Siddaramaiah said the "ground reality" now was that the reservoirs in the Cauvery basin -- Kabini, Hemavathy, Harangi and KRS -- had a combined storage of 51 TMC ft and at least 40 TMC ft of that was required to meet drinking water needs of Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mandya and other cities, as also villages and the remaining quantum for standing crops.
"There is no water for this only (drinking and standing crops). This is the ground reality. All (parties) have shared the same view," the Chief Minister said. The meeting, he said, decided that the Supreme Court should be apprised of the "ground reality" and the state's advocates would be told to do so.
The meeting was attended by Union Minister Ananth Kumar, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjuna Kharge, BJP leader K S Eshwarappa, former Chief Minister and JDS leader H D Kumaraswamy, besides Law Minister T B Jayachandra and Water Resources Minister M B Patil.
Kharge said all parties backed the government and added, "there is no water. The question of release of water (to Tamil Nadu) does not arise." Kumaraswamy said there was no question of dissonance on the issue and the government had been told to take care of the interests of the state farmers who had already received a "big blow" due to drought.
In the Supreme Court, Tamil Nadu has sought directions to Karnataka to release 50.052 TMC ft of Cauvery water to irrigate farmland. It has also sought the court's intervention to ensure that Karnataka adhered to the stipulated water releases in accordance with the 2007 order of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal for the remaining months, starting from August 20 in the irrigation year of 2016-17.
In the petition, Tamil Nadu has charged Karnataka with diverting water meant for farmers during distress years for undeclared projects, in violation of the tribunal's orders. After Tamil Nadu's plea for an urgent hearing, an apex court bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur has posted the matter for September 2.