S M Krishna- Not up to the dust and heat today

Pic: The Hindu

The Indian National Congress in Karnataka needs a face and with S M Krishna back, the question is whether he will be handed over the mantle of raising the hopes of the party? Continue reading “S M Krishna- Not up to the dust and heat today”

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What prompted Karnataka to take the contempt risk?

Cauvery waters- pic-thehindubusinessline.com

Where is the need to release water to Tamil Nadu when excess water as a result of the North East rains is already flowing there is what Karnataka has in its defence when it faces the contempt petition filed against it by Tamil Nadu.

When the submission was made before the Supreme Court that it was in no position to release anymore more to Tamil Nadu was made, Karnataka was well aware that it could run the risk of being held in contempt. Looking the decision to stop release of water to Tamil Nadu is contempt of court technically, but Karnataka can take hope in the fact that it was saved by mother nature as a result of the excess rainfall it received thanks to the north east rains.
Continue reading “What prompted Karnataka to take the contempt risk?”

Karnataka Bundh!

Pic-ndtv.com

Normal life has been hit in Karnataka following the dawn to dusk bundh called to protest release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu. The bundh has evoked a good response across the state. Protests have been organized all through the state.The Chamundi Express was stopped at Srirangapatna. Peaceful  marches were held in Mandya and Mysore districts. Around 15000 police personnel are on duty.

Why the BJP did not make the Cauvery issue political?

Pic: thehindu.com

There are protests galore in Karnataka over the Cauvery issue and there appears to be no solution in sight with farmers only intensifying their protest with each passing day. The Cauvery Waters issue has always been political in Karnataka and those who have defied Tamil Nadu’s demands have always made gains politically.

A question that many would ask is why the BJP in Karnataka did not capitalise on the issue and defy the release of water. While any such move by Karnataka would have earned the wrath of the Supreme Court, it would have still have been beneficial for any party politically.

The fact is that the Karnataka BJP which rules Karnataka had first planned on defying the order of the Cauvery River Waters Authority which ordered the release of 9000 cusecs to Tamil Nadu. Even after the Supreme Court rap, many leaders in the state had said that they should stand by the demands of the farmers and defy the order even at the risk of losing power. Continue reading “Why the BJP did not make the Cauvery issue political?”

Cauvery- Hunger strike from Thursday

The farmers protesting the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu would sit in an indefinite hunger strike at the Krishna Raja Sagar dam near Mysore starting tomorrow even as the Union Government has assured to send expert team to both states to study the issue.
The indefinite hunger strike which was to commence today was postponed to Thursday and 1000s of farmers led by their leader Made Gowda will go on a hunger strike. They have demanded the reversal of the order of the Cauvery River Waters Authority headed by the Prime Minister which had ordered the release of water to Tamil Nadu. Continue reading “Cauvery- Hunger strike from Thursday”

JD(S) MLA’s resign over Cauvery issue

Pic: megamedianews.in

Even as Karnataka continues to release water to Tamil Nadu as per the directive of the Cauvery River Waters Authority, all the MLAs from the Janata Dal (S) have tendered their resignations against this move by the Karnataka government.

The JD(S) MLAs tendered their resignations to their party chief, H D Kumaraswamy. The MLAs stated that they do not want to be part of the legislature as they are protesting against the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu. Kumaraswamy will convene a meeting with his party legislators tomorrow and decide on the next course of action.

Meanwhile protests continued in various parts of the state against the release of water to Tamil Nadu. Protests were intense at the Cauvery basin district of the state for a second day in a row and police took into preventive custody nearly 100 persons. There were protests at the Mysore bank circle in Bangalore as well. Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar while urging the people to maintain calm told media persons that the action to release water is inevitable in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.Several trains connecting Bangalore and Mysore were also hit. The Karnataka Road Transport Corporation has also suspended its services fearing violence. Many vehicles bearing the Tamil Nadu registration also stayed off the roads in Bangalore and rest of the state. The state has deployed three companies of the Rapid Action Force as a security measure.

The Karnataka Legal team says that it is in the process of preparing an appeal and would file it before the Supreme Court as early as possible. The appeal against the order of the Cauvery River Water Authority would be filed before the Supreme Court once Karnataka fulfills its condition of releasing 9000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu

Drought and a dispute

Photo courtesy: The Hindu
Photo courtesy: The Hindu

There is a lot of politics that is taking place in Karnataka over the drought situation this year, but the fact of the matter is that the scenario is pretty bad. The very fact that Chief Minister of Karnataka Sadananda Gowda has demanded a relief fund of Rs 2200 crore from the Union Government for drought relief work itself is an indication that the situation is not looking too good. In addition to this there is also the added headache of the very infamous Cauvery waters dispute.

There are nearly 120 taluks which are reeling under drought and North Karnataka appears to be the worst hit in this situation like always. The Krishna basin is probably the worst hit and the water levels have gone down so much that it has taken a hit on drinking water too. The biggest reservoir in the region, the Almatti too has recorded 23 TMC of less water this year when compared the previous years.

Going by the situation in the towns of Bagalkot and Bijapur in North Karnataka the situation states that this is the worst possible situation that the residents have faced in 40 years.

The officials in the district administration paint a worried picture of the scenario and say that there is a movement of people from these regions into other parts of the state which have better rainfall. We usually get good rains, but this year the rains have played truant and the challenges ahead are extremely tough.

The water crisis in North Karnataka has not only taken a hit for humans, but there is equal suffering for the cattle and the live stock too. In the areas of Belgaum water is being supplied everyday in nearly 150 tankers. Belgaum for example used to face a water crisis in just 9 villages, but this year nearly 23 villages in the area have been hit due to bad rainfall. The problem is similar in the areas of Bagalkot, Dharwad and Bijapur, Gadag and Haveri too according to statistics.

The Northern part of Karnataka is always the most affected when there is a drought. Hubli in particular is a worst case example of urban governance. The twin cities of Hubli and Dharwad have a population of 18 lakh. There are 65 wards here but 24 hour water supply is restricted to just 5 wards. The rest of the wards depend on the government installed water taps which give water only once in 15 days.

Take the case of Gulbarga, Raichur, Koppal, gadag and Bellary which are also in North Karnataka. All these areas have been getting drinking water once in 21 days. Yes there may be constant water supply, but there are two qualities of water that is available here. While pure drinking water is available once in 21 days the other type of water which is high in salts suitable only for washing purpose is available more often in open wells. Once again it does not appear that the projects have been implemented correctly as for each village there is just one open well which again does not supply quality drinking water.

In the year 1998 Karnataka had asked for a world bank loan to rectify the water problem. This grant however came in only 4 years later. The idea was to ensure that all hamlets in Karnataka get surface water which is believed to be less polluted. While Karnataka did manage to set up such plants what the government did not focus on was the recharging of this water. Recharging of this water is extremely important to ensure that there is constant water supply.

Then comes the problem of decentralization in such projects. Any local body has to approach the state cabinet in order to implement any project relating to water. In the case of an urban body the state cabinet in Bangalore had to be approached in case the project was worth above Rs 1 crore. However the problem was for the local bodies such as the Zilla Panchayats which have to seek an approval in case the project is above Rs 10 lakh. Files got stuck for long periods and the work was never implemented the people accuse. To beat this, the local bodies implemented two projects worth Rs 9 lakh and more often than not all the money was never utilised for the projects.

The situation in the areas of H D Kote and Hunsur are also grim and Chief Minister, Sadananda Gowda said that they were considering including these areas too into the list of drought affected areas. The government also seeks to give Gulbarga, Raichur, Bidar, Koppal and Yadgir in the Hyderabad-Karnataka special status.

Going by the statistics put out in terms of rainfall received by Karnataka the picture looks grim.

-Rather Very Heavy Rain received in parts of Hassan, Kodagu & Mandya District.

-Moderate Very Heavy Rain received in parts of Chamarajanagara, Chikkamagalur, Chitradurga, Dakshina. Kannada, Mysore, Ramanagara, Shimoga and Tumkur District.

-Isolated, Light rain received in parts of Bangalore Rural, Bangalore Urban, Bellary, Chikkaballapura, Davanagere, Haveri and Yadgir districts.

-Very Light rain received in parts of Bagalkote, Belgaum, Dharwad, Gulbarga, Kolar, Raichur & Uttara Kannada districts.

-Dry weather condition prevailed remaining parts of the State

The dispute– While on one hand every political party wants to have a say in the drought issue, the other issue that is likely to crop up is the never ending Cauvery Water’s dispute.

Tamil Nadu has been raising a claim for more water, but Karnataka has been arguing that the share of water which was possible has already been given.

Tamil Nadu in turn has sought a clarification and the matter will come up before the tribunal in New Delhi on April 17th.

Mohan Katarki who argues the case on behalf of Karnataka says that the matter was to be listed before the Supreme Court in February, but it did not come up. It does not appear that it would be taken up before the court vacation. Tamil Nadu had initially sought a clarification of the award but the tribunal wanted the Supreme Court to first dispose off the matter. Now they have sought another clarification about the old award and that would be taken up on April 17th.

Karnataka on the other hand has been arguing that that 2007 awards regarding water sharing cannot be in play as the situation in terms of rains do vary. Karnataka had even sought the intervention of the Prime Minister on the issue, but that has not taken place as yet. Over the years, Karnataka claims that it has given more than the share of water. The average water that has been given has ranged in between 210 to 300 TMC, although Tamil Nadu has sought 300 TMC of water while Karnataka says that this is something which was existent as per the 1924 agreement and the same cannot be implemented in today’s scenario.

However the legal experts say that on this dispute there is not much to be worried about. Karnataka is doing its share and annually the state needs to give 192 TMC of water which is again broken in monthly and weekly statistics. Moreover depending on the situation there is also a carry forward option. Karnataka says that while 192 TMC is the limit that needs to be shared which is 62 per cent of the water in the catchment above the Krishna Raja Sagar Reservoir, the state has already shared 175 TMC this year and hence there ought not to be a problem.