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Baalu hopes Karnataka will help delta ryots

By Our Special Correspondent

COIMBATORE, JUNE 15. The Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, T.R. Baalu, today expressed the hope that Karnataka would come to the rescue of Cauvery delta farmers by releasing water.

Responding to queries on the reported rejection of the plea for release of water by the Karnataka Chief Minister, Dharam Singh, Mr. Baalu said he was not prepared to go by newspaper reports.

He said the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had already led a delegation to meet Mr. Singh. The ruling All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam also decided to send one tomorrow (Wednesday). He said he was confident that the "Karnataka Government will help us and all right-thinking persons would help us."

When it was pointed out that all parties in Karnataka were unanimous on water release, he said, "things might change. They will definitely consider (our plea)."

Asked whether he preferred a negotiated settlement or a solution through court, he said the process of negotiations was going on at an informal level "for a temporary respite to save the crop this year." Even the ruling party had initiated a similar step. "It does not mean that we are all for an out-of-court settlement."

The Tamil Nadu Government had always been for a court settlement. Hence, the question of out-of-court settlement did not arise, he said.

However, he pleaded that there should be no bitterness between the States. "I am not a hard bargainer and being a Central Minister I don't want to spoil the cordial atmosphere. My remarks should not be detrimental to the interests of the farmers of both the States."

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