Bangalore: Chief Ministers of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu will hold talks on Thursday here on the sharing of Cauvery river water, as suggested by the Supreme Court on Monday.

"Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and our Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar will discuss the Cauvery issue to find a solution for sharing the river water in the interest of farmers in both the states," Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashoka told reporters here on Wednesday.

The state government has made elaborate arrangements to host Jayalalithaa, who will arrive on Thursday afternoon from Chennai by a chartered aircraft at the high security HAL Airport in the city and drive to a nearby star hotel for the talks with Shettar.

"Precautionary measures are being taken to ensure the safety of Jayalalithaa, who is provided Z-plus category security. Our view is that the talks should be held in a cordial atmosphere. As it is a farmers' issue and not a political issue, efforts should be made to find a permanent solution, which is acceptable to farmers in both states," Ashoka stressed.

Officials and experts from both states will assist their chief ministers in the talks on the vexed issue, being held for the second time after 15 years. The issue surfaces each time the water situation becomes distressing.

A similar meeting was held in 1997 between then Karnataka chief minister J.H. Patel and his Tamil Nadu counterpart M. Karunanidhi in Chennai. Severe drought, a weak south-west monsoon and deficit rainfall in the river basin resulted in water levels depleting in the reservoirs and dams across the old Mysore region, leading to agitation by farmers against the release of additional water to the riparian state since September.

Hearing Tamil Nadu's petition for directing Karnataka to release 52.8 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of Cauvery water till February to save the standing Kurvai crops in the delta region, a division bench of the apex court headed by Justice D.K. Jain and Justice Madan B. Lokur advised the chief ministers to meet and find an amicable solution in the interests of farmers of both states.

As the apex court is set to resume the hearing Friday, hectic parleys began late Wednesday between officials of both states to prepare the points of discussion by Shettar and Jayalalithaa.


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