Karnataka chief minister Jagadish Shettar and his Tamil Nadu counterpart Jayalalithaa on Thursday fought bitterly on the Cauvery water-sharing row as the much-hyped talks held following Supreme Court suggestion failed to break the ice.
The less-than-an-hour meeting appeared to widen the wedge between the two states, with both sides sticking to their known hard stands, taking the case back to the apex court.
Jayalalithaa pushed for the release of a "bare minimum" of 30 TMC ft of water in the next 15 days to "save the standing samba (long term) crops" but Karnataka made it clear that it's not at all in a position to do so.
"...there is distress in Karnataka. We are not in a position to release water," Shettar told reporters after the meeting, which came at the suggestion of the Supreme Court.
Jayalalithaa argued that the effective storage at Mettur dam is 6.34 TMC ft after accounting for dead storage and drinking water requirements, and this would be sufficient for only another six days of irrigation.
If Karnataka did not release water, the standing samba crops will wither and die and "there will be a calamity for farmers of Tamil Nadu", she said.
"But despite all our discussions, despite all our pleadings, the Karnataka government was firm in saying that it could not release even a single drop of water. So this is the outcome of the meeting. Karnataka has flatly refused to release any water to Tamil Nadu," she said.
Shettar said reservoirs in Cauvery basin in Karnataka had a storage of only 37 TMC ft. Of this, 20 TMC ft is required for drinking water needs of Bangalore, other cities and rural areas and after letting out 10 TMC ft for "environmental purposes", it's left with only seven TMC ft for irrigation.
"If you release 30 TMC ft (out of 37 TMC ft we have), you can imagine the situation in future", he said.
This is the second time in 15 years that chief ministers of the two states had bilateral talks on the water row after 1997 when M Karunanidhi and JH Patel met in Chennai.