Karnataka told to release 2 tmc ft water to TN

TN can use 2 tmc ft Mettur water

The Supreme Court on Monday directed Karnataka to release 2 tmc ft of Cauvery water for the standing samba crop in Tamil Nadu, but did not issue any time frame for the same.

A three-judge bench, presided over by Justice R M Lodha, also told the Central Water Commission chairman to send a three-member expert team to ascertain the total area under standing crop in Tamil Nadu, after Karnataka contended that 40 per cent of the 10 lakh acres have already been harvested. In view of the “conflicting stand” of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, the court directed the expert committee to send a report by February 6 after inspecting the Cauvery delta area, especially the Tiruvarur, Thanjavur and Nagapattinam districts.

Meanwhile, the bench asked Tamil Nadu to release 2 tmc ft of water from its storage in Mettur, which would be replenished by Karnataka. The court posted the matter for further hearing on February 7.

“Tamil Nadu is permitted to release 2 tmc ft from its storage to save its standing crop. It is made clear that irrespective of the report of the experts committee, Karnataka shall compensate Tamil Nadu with 2 tmc ft of water,” the court said.

The order came after senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, appearing for Tamil Nadu, made a fervent plea for release of at least 9 tmc ft of water to save the standing crop across 600,000 acres. Appearing for Karnataka, senior advocate Fali S Nariman opposed Tamil Nadu’s plea. He argued that the state had already harvested much of its samba crop.

He suggested the court to send a team to verify the area with standing crop.
In an affidavit, Karnataka stated that about 40 per cent of the area was already harvested. In 50 per cent of the area, the crop was ready for harvest. The state contended that the crop on the remaining 10 per cent of the land was at the stage of “physiological maturity,” which required no water.

Vaidyanathan called it “ploy” to delay the release of water. “The delay for even a single day would lead the crop to die and the people to commit suicide,” he pleaded. He said only three lakh acres of land out of nine lakh acres have been harvested. “Of the remaining six lakh acres, three lakh required two wettings and the rest required one wetting.”

Nariman submitted that the court should consider the January 10 order passed by the Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC), putting Karnataka’s drinking water requirement at 23 tmc ft. He also contended that Tamil Nadu should approach the Cauvery River Authority to challenge the order passed by the CMC.

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