Former prime minister and Janata Dal (Secular) chief HD Deve Gowda began an indefinite hunger strike on Saturday in Bengaluru to protest against the latest Supreme Court order to Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, ANI reported. Gowda said, "If there is no rain, how can we release water monthly, weekly? Let the people of this country judge whether we are habitual offenders, or whether Tamil Nadu is intimidating."
Gowda dubbed the Supreme Court order a "death warrant" for Karnataka and demanded that the same team of experts be sent to both states to study the availability of water, The Hindu reported. He began his protest after paying floral tributes to the statues of BR Ambedkar and Mahatama Gandhi and called for an intervention by the central government.
Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah convened an all-party meeting again to discuss the demand for a separate national policy exclusively to tackle interstate and water-sharing disputes. Siddaramaiah, too, had urged the Centre to play a "greater and more proactive" role to resolve the interstate water-sharing dispute.
On Friday, the apex court rebuked Karnataka for deferring the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu and directed it to release 6,000 cusecs of water between October 1 and October 6. It also asked the Centre to set up a Cauvery Water Management Board by October 4 to study the ground reality in both states and diffuse the ongoing tension. Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry will have to submit names of their representatives in the board by 4 pm on Saturday. Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti will head the panel.
The Cauvery issue escalated after the Supreme Court, on September 5, directed Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water from the Cauvery river to Tamil Nadu. It later modified its verdict and reduced the quantity to 12,000 cusecs, but the order had led to widespread protests by farmers in Karnataka, who had argued that the state needed the water more that its neighbour.