The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cauvery rivals in PM court

New Delhi, Sept. 21: An end to the Cauvery controversy did not seem in sight as Karnataka virtually pleaded its inability to implement Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s stern order today to release water to Tamil Nadu as per the Cauvery River Authority decision.

Vajpayee is understood to have given a tough message to Karnataka chief minister S.M. Krishna not to cite law and order problems in implementing the September 8 decision to release 9,000 cusecs of water daily during September-October to its neighbour.

The Prime Minister also directed that the Cauvery river monitoring committee, headed by the Union water resources secretary, visit all the Cauvery reservoirs in Karnataka to verify the levels and report back to CRA within three days. The authority would meet later.

However, a beleaguered Krishna was non-committal after an hour-long meeting, saying implementation of the authority direction depended on two factors — water flows and level of the reservoirs — inherent in its order.

All-party delegations led by Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa and her Karnataka counterpart separately called on Vajpayee earlier today as the water row reached a flashpoint.

Leading a 67-member team, Jayalalithaa asked Vajpayee to issue a directive under Article 355 to Karnataka, which has suspended release of water to the lower riparian state since Thursday.

Later, Krishna argued Karnataka’s difficulty in releasing the water before Vajpayee, chairman of the authority. The Krishna Cabinet had stopped releasing water following widespread violence in the Cauvery basin of the state by drought-hit farmers.

The Cabinet has convened an emergency meeting of the state legislature on September 24.

With the issue acquiring political colour, parties like the BJP and the Congress, which have greater stakes in Karnataka than in Tamil Nadu, are treading with caution, much to Jayalalithaa’s discomfiture.

Jayalalithaa and her multi-party team held an hour-long meeting with Vajpayee. After the meeting, the ADMK chief left the Prime Minister’s residence without talking to reporters.

The DMK, the CPM and Puthiya Tamizhagam did not attend.

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