K’taka de­fies SC, won’t re­lease Cau­very wa­ter

Set for face-off with SC over re­fusal to share wa­ter with Tamil Nadu

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Live - - FRONT PAGE - KS Dak­shina Murthy and He­manth CS

BAN­GA­LORE: Kar­nataka’s leg­is­la­ture on Fri­day re­fused to share Cau­very wa­ter with Tamil Nadu, po­ten­tially set­ting the state on a col­li­sion course with the Supreme Court days af­ter vi­o­lence rocked cap­i­tal Ben­galuru over the sen­si­tive is­sue.

Both the leg­isla­tive coun­cil and low­er­house­ad­opt­ed­sim­i­lar­res­o­lu­tions say­ing that the river wa­ter will­beuse­donly­formeet­ing­drink­ing needs of vil­lages and towns in theCau­very­basi­nandBen­galuru.

The res­o­lu­tions, how­ever, did not men­tion the top court’s or­der di­rect­ing the state to re­lease 6,000 cusecs (cu­bic feet per se­cond) to Tamil Nadu till Septem­ber 27.

The leg­is­la­ture’s de­ci­sion came nearly two weeks af­ter an ear­lier apex court or­der sparked large-scale vi­o­lence in state cap­i­tal Ben­galuru where mobs tar­geted Tamil-speak­ing peo­ple and their prop­er­ties. Spo­radic vi­o­lence has con­tin­ued since then across the state, large parts of which are fac­ing wa­ter short­age.

For chief min­is­ter Sid­dara­ma­iah, who gave an im­pas­sioned speech in the assem­bly, a face-off with the ju­di­ciary could prove costly given past in­stances of the state’s at­tempts to take on the top court on the more than cen­tury-old dis­pute.

In 1991, then chief min­is­ter S Ban­garappa had tried to cir­cum­vent a Cau­very in­terim award through an or­di­nance. Later in 2002, an­other chief min­is­ter SM Kr­ishna too had re­fused to re­lease wa­ter to Tamil Nadu. The apex court struck down the or­di­nance and forced Kr­ishna, who was in dan­ger of be­ing hauled for con­tempt of court, to com­ply with its or­der.

What makes the sit­u­a­tion dif­fer­ent now is that the en­tire state leg­is­la­ture has unan­i­mously taken a stand against an apex court’s or­der, ex­perts pointed out.

Le­gal ex­perts quoted in var­i­ous news­pa­pers and tele­vi­sion chan­nels here have vary­ing ver­sions of what can hap­pen — from ty­ing the apex court’s hands in the mat­ter to out­right dis­missal of the gov­ern­ment and assem­bly.

Sid­dara­ma­iah, how­ever, in­sisted that the res­o­lu­tion was not a de­fi­ance of the Supreme Court. “We have great re­spect for the ju­di­ciary. The in­ten­tion is not to dis­obey the ju­di­cial or­der. We will not think of it even in our dreams,” he said dur­ing the assem­bly de­bate.

“Peo­ple have given us a man­date. We can­not defy it… it would be a dere­lic­tion of duty on our part.”

The rul­ing AIADMK in Tamil Nadu re­acted sharply, say­ing the is­sue was be­ing politi­cised by the Kar­nataka gov­ern­ment “be­cause they are go­ing to face elec­tions very soon”. “Cau­very be­longs to us as well, not only to Kar­nataka. The wa­ter has to come to Tamil Nadu,” ANI quoted AIADMK leader CR Saraswathi as say­ing.

HT FILE PHOTO

The Cau­very wa­ter is­sue led to protests across Ban­ga­lore last week in which sev­eral buses were burnt.

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