Finally, Karnataka to get more Cauvery water

Finally, Karnataka to get more Cauvery water

The Supreme Court on Friday directed for additional intake of 14.75 TMC ft of Cauvery river water for Karnataka by reducing the overall quantum of water for Tamil Nadu, in a decision that might put curtains on one of the protracted inter-state water disputes in the country.

The top court stressed that the waters of an inter-state river passing through the riparian states was a "national asset" and "no state can claim exclusive ownership of such waters" to deprive the other states of their equitable share.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar, otherwise, upheld the principles adopted by the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal in distribution and allocation of river water among states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

The court decided the separate appeals by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala against the tribunal's decision of February 5, 2007 on "the bedrock of equal status of the states and doctrine of equitability". The Cauvery water dispute dated back to 1802.

In 465-page judgement authored by the CJI, the court granted additional water for Karnataka by holding that being upper riparian state it has suffered the most. It ordered that the water be released for Tamil Nadu at inter-state border at Biligundlu per annum would be reduced from 192 to 177.25 TMC ft. As a consequence, there would now be proportionate decrease in monthly release.

Holding that drinking water requirement of the overall population of all the states has to be placed on a higher pedestal, the court ordered an additional 4.75 TMC ft for Bengaluru, "keeping in mind the global status that the city has attained".

It held as unsustainable the view taken by the tribunal for the city that only 1/3rd of it fell within the river basin. The top court rejected the presumption that 50% of the drinking water requirement of the city could be met from ground water supply.

The additional 14.75 TMC ft of water granted to Karnataka was computed by the court by including 10 TMC ft on account of availability of ground water in Tamil Nadu and 4.75 TMC ft for the drinking and domestic purposes needs for the whole city of Bengaluru.

The court directed the central government to frame a scheme as mandated under Section 6A (for appointment of an authority or committee) of the Inter-State Water Dispute Act, 1956 within a span of six weeks for implementation of its judgement. The bench rejected the plea that it should be left to the discretion of the Centre.

It upheld the tribunal's allocations of 30 TMC ft of water for Kerala and 7 TMC ft for Puducherry.

The court said that the allocation of water to states would be accepted and utilised for the intended purpose "in view of the acute scarcity of the water resources and the intensely contested claims of the states". The bench ordered that no deviancy should be shown in carrying out the verdict of this court.

 

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