Pleading a truant monsoon and depleting levels in its reservoirs, a drought-hit Karnataka Thursday refused to release more Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, which decided to approach the Supreme Court Friday for relief.
"We are not in a position to release any more water to Tamil Nadu, as the present combined storage in our reservoirs is 58 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet). With an additional 52 tmcft expected from regeneration and inflows, we will have 110 tmcft just to meet our requirements till next monsoon," Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar said.
He was epaking to reporters after his talks with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa here earlier in the day failed to resolve the decades-old inter-state dispute.
Though the hour-long talks at a star hotel were held in a cordial atmosphere between the chief ministers on the Supreme Court's Nov 26 suggestion, the serious differences over the sharing of the rain-fed river water led Jayalalithaa to leave the venue abruptly, as Shettar expressed inability to release more water in view of the distress situation in the river-basin.
"The present storage in Mettur reservoir is very alarming and prospect of cultivating the samba crop by our farmers in the delta region is very bleak. As the north-east monsoon has failed, the effective storage in the reservoir as on Nov 27 is 6.34 tmcft with a dead storage of 5 tmcft. Having already lost the kurvai crop, our farmers will not be able to save even the single samba crop if water shortage continues," Jayalalithaa told reporters before leaving for Chennai.
Citing the Cauvery Water Tribunal, she said Karnataka should have shared the distress proportionately by releasing 60 percent of the water from its reservoirs.
"According to the interim order of the tribunal, Tamil Nadu should have received 167.16 tmcft from June to October, but got around 47.3 tmcft with the shortfall being 119.85 tmcft," she said.
"On pro-rata share of distress, as envisaged by the Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC), we should have received at least 100.85 tmcft and shortfall to the extent of 53.4 tmcft at Mettur. We need an additional 30 tmcft in the next 15 days to save the samba crop in 14.63 lakh acres of farmland," Jayalalithaa said.
Putting up the state's case with voluminous data, Shettar said due to monsoon failure and worst drought in four decades, the four reservoirs (KR Sagar, Kabini, Harangi and Hemavathy) have just enough water to provide 20 tmcft to meet the drinking water requirement of Bangalore, Mysore and towns across the river basin.
"As a long-term solution that can lead to a settlement outside courts and the Cauvery River Authority, the state has suggested three formulas on sharing the river water to Tamil Nadu, which declined to consider," Shettar said.
With talks failing, Tamil Nadu has decided to apprise the apex court Friday on the outcome of her meeting with Shettar and seek a directive to Karnataka to release its share of water as recommended by the CMC.
Meanwhile, Karnataka's Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai told reporters that Jayalalithaa's claim that Mettur dam had only 6.3 tmcft of water was unfounded.
"According to the data of the Central Water Commission, the Mettur dam has 16.75 tmcft of water, which is enough to meet the requirement of farmers in the delta districts of Tamil Nadu. They (farmers) also have the option to use groundwater," Bommai said.