The Supreme Court on Thursday directed Karnataka to release 2.44 tmc ft of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, in line with the recommendation of an expert committee of the Central Water Commission.
A three-judge bench, presided over by Justice R M Lodha, rejected objections raised by Tamil Nadu over the conclusions drawn by the committee, which was formed on directions of the court.
“Taking consideration of the report dated February 6 and the entire material on record, we are satisfied that the interest of justice shall be met if Karnataka is directed to release 2.44 tmc ft for the purpose of standing crop in Tamil Nadu. Karnataka shall release the
water as directed forthwith,” the bench said.
The court clarified that Karnataka will replenish the spent quantity at Mettur. Karnataka pleaded that the water should be measured at Biligundlu.
The court, on February 4, had ordered constitution of a three-member expert team to ascertain the quantum of standing crop after inspecting the Cauvery delta area, particularly the Tiruvarur, Thanjavur and Nagapattinam districts. In its report, the committee said 0.71 tmc ft of water was required for one wetting across 45,000 acre, while for two wettings across 55,000 acres, the requirement was 1.73 tmc ft.
Commending the committee for submitting its report within such a short span, the bench said: “We are satisfied that the release of 2.44 tmc ft of water by Karnataka to Tamil Nadu shall not deprive it of drinking water requirements in Bangalore.”
During the hearing, senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, appearing for Tamil Nadu, questioned the recommendation.
He stated that the committee comprising chief engineers from Coimbatore and Bangalore and the agriculture ministry deputy commissioner did not even cover 10 per cent of the area during their visit. “Their recommendations are not based on objective facts. We have video record to show that they did not visit even 10 per cent of the area,” the counsel said.
In response, the bench, also comprising justices J Chelameswar and Madan B Lokur, said: “Don’t try to complicate the issue. We gave limited time to the committee. You have to appreciate the finding in that context. Obviously, the committee may not have been able to give the accurate position of the standing crop and water requirement in such a short period of time. But, it can’t be said the recommendation was wholly incorrect and untenable.”