SC orders state to release 6k cusecs to Tamil Nadu

SC orders state to release 6k cusecs to Tamil Nadu

SC orders state to release 6k cusecs to Tamil Nadu
The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery river water every day to Tamil Nadu from September 21 to 27.

A Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit passed the order, disregarding the strong opposition raised by Karnataka that any further release of water for the purpose of irrigating Tamil Nadu’s samba crops would lead to sacrificing its own drinking water needs.

“As an interim measure, we direct Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs of water from tomorrow till the next date of hearing September 27,” the bench said after a two-and-half-hour hearing.

The court also directed the Union government to set up a Cauvery Management Board within four weeks. This has also come as a setback to Karnataka which has been opposing its formation till the judgement by the apex court on its appeal against the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal’s decision.

The court pulled up the Union government over the delay in constituting the Cauvery Management Board which should act as “an independent mechanism to achieve the objective of distribution of water as determined by the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal in 2007”.

“The Supervisory Committee was constituted in 2013 but more problem is arising. Pending challenge to the Cauvery award, you can’t go on like this. How long have you been fighting over it,” the bench asked the counsels representing the Centre, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

“This dispute is there since 1892. The Cauvery Management Board is an expert body. Just because problem did not arise earlier does not mean that it will not arise in future,” the bench added.

At the outset, senior advocate F S Nariman vehemently objected to the decision of the Supervisory Committee which was read out by Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand.
Concurring with the view, the bench said, “The Supervisory Committee is a pro tem measure.”

“We require the Supervisory Committee as an expert to see that the award is implemented and take a decision how it is to be implemented when there are issues and allocation of water is not possible like in the case of deficit or calamity. In this case, the committee has adjudicated on the matter which is not its role,” the bench said.

Nariman, for his part, again underscored the fact that Karnataka had suffered a deficit year. He contended there was no formula for monthly release of water and no provision for distress year in the tribunal’s decision.

He agreed that the annual liability had been fixed at 192 tmcft. Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, representing Tamil Nadu, countered him, saying Karnataka was not willing to part with water even as per its own claim of deficit of 48%. “The drinking water is a bogey. They want to keep water for drinking purpose but they withdrew 26 tmcft for irrigation,” he claimed.

Nariman submitted that the matter had to be adjudicated by the apex court and a report should be called for from the Supervisory Committee. “We want to challenge the direction for release of water for 10 days by the committee. I am objecting to it. You have to give some final order. Please decide what is to be done for the future,” he said.

Nariman also submitted that the tribunal’s decision was not in absolute term with regard to distribution of water and the language emphasised for tentative release.

The Bench allowed both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to file their objections within three days to the direction by the Cauvery Supervisory Committee to Karnataka to release 3,000 cusecs per day. The next date of hearing is September 27.

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