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Monday, 10 February, 2003, 17:54 GMT
Vajpayee orders Cauvery release
Karnataka police tackle protesting farmers
The water dispute has led to violent protests

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has asked the southern Karnataka state to release 4,500 cusecs (cubic foot per second) water for its neighbour, Tamil Nadu.

300,000 acres of crop have withered away this season due to lack of rain

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha

The water from the disputed Cauvery river, which flows through both states, is to be released for the next three days.

Mr Vajpayee asked Karnataka to release 2,000 million cubic feet of water every month after the first three days, as stipulated by an earlier water tribunal.

He took the decision at a meeting of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA), which he chairs, in Delhi on Monday.

The decision followed instructions issued by the Supreme Court last week, but both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have expressed unhappiness with it.

Crop losses

Monday's meeting was crucial as two previous such meetings had to be postponed in recent months when some members failed to appear.

Map

The meeting was held after the Supreme Court on Thursday directed Karnataka to release 4,500 cusecs of water until Monday.

The court had directed all members to be present at Monday's meeting. It had also said that in case the meeting failed to reach a consensus, the prime minister's decision would be final.

The allocation of water fell far short of Tamil Nadu's expectations.

Officials said the state's Chief Minister J Jayalalitha had asked for 10,000 million cubic feet of water from the Cauvery river, but the demand was rejected by Karnataka.

Ms Jayalalitha told reporters that the outcome of the meeting was "unfortunate."

She said: "300,000 acres of crop have withered away this season due to lack of rain and less than 20% of the remaining 500,000 acres can barely be retrieved.

"Most of the crop loss has taken place in the Cauvery delta region."

Drought-stricken

Karnataka's Chief Minister SM Krishna too said he was "unhappy with the decision".

Jayalalitha (L) with Prime Minister Vajpayee (R)
Ms Jayalalitha (L) is unhappy with Mr Vajpayee's order

"In spite of severe hardship faced by the state due to adverse monsoon conditions we have implemented the directions of the Supreme Court," he said.

"Yet another direction today has come, (and) we have no alternative other than to submit ourselves to the decision", Mr Krishna told reporters in Delhi.

Tamil Nadu has declared some parts of the state drought-stricken and has been making urgent appeals for more water from the river.

See also:

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