Karnataka seeks central team to study water level in Cauvery

Bengaluru, Sep 8 (IANS) Karnataka has urged the central government to rush a study team to Mysuru for assessing the low water level in the Cauvery river basin and the resultant distress, said State Water Resources Minister M.B. Patil on Thursday.

“We have written a letter to the Union Water Resources Secretary for sending a fact-finding team of experts to study the water level in the four reservoirs across the Cauvery basin and assess the distress we are facing,” Patil told reporters here.

Though the state began releasing 15,000 cusecs of the river water daily to Tamil Nadu since Wednesday in compliance with the Supreme Court’s Monday order for 10 days, it has also decided to approach the Cauvery Supervisory Committee for sparing the state from releasing more water to the lower riparian state after September 16.

The Supervisory Committee was set up by the apex court in May 2013 as a pro-tem measure for implementing the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal award, which the central government notified in February of 2013 six years after the tribunal declared the award in February 2007.

Union Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar is the Chairman of the Supervisory Committee, while chief secretaries of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry are its members, besides officials from the Central Water Commission.

“The combined deficit in all the four reservoirs is 48 per cent till Wednesday due to below normal rains in their catchment areas till August,” lamented Patil.

The four reservoirs – Harangi, Hemavathy, Kabini and Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) – have received 115 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water till August as against the normal flow of 216 tmcft due to deficit rainfall during the monsoon season.

“We are not in a position to release more water as the remaining quantity in the four dams is 47 tmcft, which is barely sufficient to meet the drinking water needs of the people in the region till June 2017,” asserted Patil.

As 11,000 cusecs is equivalent to one tmcft and 15,000 cusecs is 1.36 tmcft, the combined reservoirs’ live storage will decline to 33 tmcft from 47 tmcft on September 6 after 13.6 tmcft is released in 10 days.

A cusec, which is a measure of flow rate of water per second, is equivalent to a flow of 28.317 litres per second.

“As the Supervisory Committee is authorised to decide on the amount of water to be released in a specified period, an early assessment of the water level in the reservoirs by the central team would help us in conveying our inability to release more water, as rains in the region are unlikely in a retreating monsoon,” said Patil.

As per the tribunal’s final award, the state has to release 192tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu during a normal year, when the Southwest Monsoon rainfall is above normal.

Though the tribunal has provided for sharing of distress without giving the operational method or formula, the state released 33 tmcft of water till August on the basis of proportionality.

“Ignoring the distress, Tamil Nadu sought 50 tmcft at the Central Water Commission gauge station at Biligundlu, which is applicable in a normal year and not in a distress year,” clarified Patil.

–IANS

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