Karnataka may reopen Cauvery issue

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NEW DELHI: Karnataka may seek to reopen the Cauvery waters award, with ruling Congress accusing the ousted BJP regime of ignoring the state’s interests by casually over-committing in the Supreme Court.

“BJP government did not handle the Cauvery dispute in favour of the state. These issues are political in nature. It has to be relooked to protect the farmers’ interests in Karnataka,” state Congress chief G Parameshwara said.

He said the BJP government undertook in Supreme Court that Karnataka would release 10,000 cusecs of water daily. “With such an affidavit in the apex court, the tribunal is bound to take that into consideration,” he said, claiming how the commitment in court influenced the tribunal’s award.

Though pushing for negotiations, the Congress leader feared that Tamil Nadu may not agree because the award was generous to them.

The Centre notified the final award of the tribunal in February, setting the stage for its implementation that Karnataka claims would hurt the state.

The intractable issue marks a challenge for CM Siddaramaiah though the statement from Congress shows it senses an opportunity to paint BJP in a negative light ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The strong resonance of water sharing with the rural populace made it an attractive political weapon in recent years, though by pitting Karnataka against Tamil Nadu.

Speaking to TOI after discussions with Congress leadership on policy agenda for the state, Parameshwara said Cauvery was a priority for the Siddaramaiah regime besides the establishment of corruption-free administration and focus on SC/ST and OBC welfare. “We have to bring back the pride of Karnataka and provide a transparent and clean government that can take the state forward in progress,” he said.

Parameshwara said water availability had to be a key factor in the sharing formula. “We have to put forward our problem. There is no rain. The water has to be available. Karnataka can give away all its water and then do what? The distress has to be shared,” he added.

He said issues like water sharing were political in nature and had to be resolved through negotiations so that “interests of both states were protected”.

Listing priorities for the new dispensation, Parameshwara said reviving an investment-friendly atmosphere was a must to take the state forward. “There is private money available and we have to give them confidence,” he said.

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