New Delhi: For the first time in nine years, the Cauvery River Authority will meet later this month this time to discuss Tamil Nadu’s demand for immediate release of water by Karnataka to save the state’s standing rice crops.

The decision to convene the meeting of the CRA headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh either on September 19 or 20 comes a day after the Supreme Court pulled up PMO officials on the issue.

Water Resources Minister PK Bansal said on Tuesday the Centre was in touch with Chief Ministers of the member-states of the CRA and expressed the hope that everyone would be present at the meeting.

“We are in touch with all the Chief Ministers and everybody would be there (at the meeting). In all likelihood, it will be 19th or 20th of this month,” Mr. Bansal told reporters here.

He was responding to questions about the Supreme Court’s strong remarks against PMO officials for not convening the meeting.

The last time the CRA met was on February 10, 2003 under the chairmanship of the then Prime Minister A B Vajpayee. The CRA was set up by the Centre in 1997 with far reaching powers to ensure the implementation of the Interim Order.

Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been locked in a bitter battle for over two decades to share the water of Cauvery river. Both states are now fighting their battle in the Supreme Court.

The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal had in 2007 submitted its report, awarding water share to all the states concerned.

An apex court bench of justices D K Jain and Madan B Lokur had on Monday expressed surprise that the meeting of CRA, comprising chief ministers of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Kerala, has not taken place as the PMO is trying to fix a date convenient to all members.

It is surprising and shocking that you require consent of the states for even fixing the date for the meeting. For fixing a date, it requires the convenience of the PM or the convenience of states?” the bench asked.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had been demanding that Singh convene the meeting of the CRA.

The Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC) meets to resolve issues. The CMC consists of Secretary, Water Resources as Chairperson, Chief Secretaries and Chief Engineers of the basin States as Members and Chairman, Central Water Commission as members.

The Centre on August 30 had told the apex court that it would soon convene a CRA meeting to consider Tamil Nadu’s plea for release of 25.373 tmfct (thousand million cubic feet) of water from Cauvery river to save the state’s standing crops.

In its application, Tamil Nadu had said during the current irrigation year 2012—2013, though the south west monsoon is not vigorous in the Cauvery catchment of Karnataka, the state of Karnataka has received 21.9 TMCft of inflow in its four major reservoirs up to July 20.

It had complained that over the years, Karnataka did not agree to the distress sharing formula evolved by the Central Water Commission/Cauvery Monitoring Committee, with the result that it “resorts to impounding all the flows in its reservoirs depriving the state of Tamil Nadu in getting its legitimate flows, more so during the lean years, thus aggravating the distress situation.”


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