Cauvery: SC to hold day-to-day hearing of appeals from February 7

Cauvery: SC to hold  day-to-day hearing of appeals from February 7
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to allow a plea by Tamil Nadu to decide on setting up Cauvery Management Board, before hearing the appeals against the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal’s order on distribution of water among basin states. A three-judge bench presided over by Justice Dipak Misra fixed February 7 as the date for starting day-to-day hearing on the petitions filed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala against the Tribunal’s final order of 2007.  The court directed all counsels to submit their preliminary note on February 7.

The court also directed Karnataka to continue releasing 2,000 cusecs of Cauvery water daily to Tamil Nadu. Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, submitted that the court should first adjudicate on constituting the Cauvery Management Board. “Several years have gone by...the river is perennial but the litigation should not be,” he said.

As senior advocate Fali S Nariman opposed the plea, the bench, also comprising Justices Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar, said, “We will hear appeals. The direction to set up the Board is a part of the Tribunal’s order. We will not go further into plea on passing interim order,” the bench said. The court also indicated that it would not remand the matter back to the Tribunal and instead prefer to decide the dispute finally.

Tamil Nadu’s counsel also brought the issue of shortage of about 4.8 tmcft water from Karnataka, which, on the contrary, claimed that the deficit was only to the extent of one tmcft or even less. Karnataka’s counsel Mohan Katarki submitted that the state would be able to release the requisite water by January 31. Tamil Nadu also submitted that the north-east monsoon had also failed completely, resulting in 67 % deficit of water. The court said it had already passed order (for releasing water) after deliberating considerable time and would not further look into it.

Kerala’s counsel Jaideep Gupta said the state would argue as to what could be the basis of allocation of water resource and how it was to be utilised by the state, among others. To this, the bench said, “We have gravest doubt if the court can go into methodology of utilising water.” The bench also allowed a plea for withdrawal of an application by a group of Bengaluru citizens for ensuring supply of drinking water to the city.

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