Bengaluru: Former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Deve Gowda has called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to mediate in the ongoing Cauvery water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. He proposed the establishment of an independent expert panel to develop a fair water-sharing formula between the two States.
At a press conference in Bengaluru yesterday, he unveiled a letter urging Modi to direct the Jal Shakti Ministry to submit an application to the Supreme Court, notifying its intent to dispatch an expert panel to assess water availability in the Cauvery basin’s reservoirs.
In his letter, Deve Gowda referenced his proposal during the recent Parliamentary session to form a committee of five experts independent of the party States and the Union Government to conduct an immediate on-site assessment of the current ground realities in both States. This impartial panel, free from political affiliations, should promptly evaluate all designated reservoirs within the Cauvery basin.
The panel’s findings should be presented to the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) and Cauvery Water Regulation Commission (CWRC) for consideration before making decisions on water release. The committee would also be tasked with devising a fair distress formula, considering factors such as rainfall deficits, reservoir inflow, storage levels, agricultural and drinking water requirements, among others.
Deve Gowda criticised the Congress party for its lack of interest in Cauvery issue, recounting a past instance when former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh urged him to approach the court for a resolution due to the perceived threat to his Government’s stability. He noted that despite several prominent Karnataka leaders being part of Dr. Manmohan Singh’s cabinet, none took a stance on the matter.
Deve Gowda highlighted the need for comprehensive studies on the operation of all identified reservoirs in the Cauvery basin, which, he claimed, had not been conducted by either CWMA or CWRC. To prevent further injustice to Karnataka, Deve Gowda urged the Jal Shakti Ministry to submit an application to the Supreme Court, indicating their intention to dispatch an expert committee. He appealed to the Prime Minister to intervene and file a revision petition.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Siddharamaiah welcomed Deve Gowda’s initiative, stressing the importance of the Prime Minister’s intervention for resolving the dispute through bilateral dialogue between the two States.
Siddharamaiah expressed hope that Modi would consider Gowda’s plea and facilitate discussions between the two States to address the dispute. He emphasised Karnataka’s history of unity across political divides when dealing with issues related to land, water and language and expressed confidence in the BJP’s willingness to continue this tradition, as the JD(S) had done.