The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Karnataka to release 2,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu for 12 days from October 7-18.
In a setback for Tamil Nadu, it also put on hold its earlier order to constitute the Cauvery Water Management Board (CWMB) after the Centre suggested it to appoint a ‘technical team’ to visit the Cauvery basin to study the ground reality there.
“The Cauvery Water Management Board can’t be set up like this. It has to go to Parliament. We have to go by law,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra.
The bench then set up a technical panel headed by the chairman of the Central Water Commission and asked it to visit the river basin along with nominees of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala, and submit a report by October 17. The matter will now be heard on October 18.
The apex court had twice ordered the Centre to form CWMB. While the bench on September 20 had granted four weeks to the Centre to constitute the board, later on September 30, it had advanced it to Tuesday (October 4) in order to resolve the impasse.
Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, questioned the very need of this “inspection” on the grounds that the 2007 Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal award had an in-built “deficit formula”. He also asked what was the point of the exercise when Karnataka has defied the orders of the apex court. “The question is of rule of law in this court. Karnataka has taken the court’s orders lightly and plays the victim,” he said.
When senior advocate Fali Nariman for Karnataka asked the bench on what basis it was asking the state to give “10,000 cusecs, give 15,000 cusecs and 6,000 cusecs, etc, Justice Misra said: “We are basing it on arithmetic”.“Well arithmetic is not enough, you have to look at the ground realities also,” Nariman retorted.
While the Centre told the apex court that it had no jurisdiction to order the formation of the body, Tamil Nadu accused the Centre of “playing into the hands of the Karnataka government” to deny the people of Tamil Nadu their share of Cauvery water.
Rohatgi submitted that its orders to constitute the CWMB cannot be complied with as the CMB which was recommended by the tribunal is under challenge before the Supreme Court as various appeals have been filed by states.
The court recorded Karnataka’s submission that, pursuant to apex court orders, it has released 17.5 tmc feet water from September 5 to 30. This was disputed by Tamil Nadu, which said only 16.9 tmc feet of water was released during the period.
Till Monday, Karnataka had refused to comply with the SC orders to share 6,000 cusecs of water for six days. However, it changed its mind as the Supreme Court warned it of dire consequences.
TN slams Centre’s plea for modification of Cauvery order
Expressing objection to the Centre filing an interlocutory application in the SC seeking modi-fication of the apex court’s Cauvery order, the Tamil Nadu government has sought its withdrawal and demanded setting up of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB). Referring to the interlocutory plea filed by the Centre in the SC on Monday, the TN government said it was against the assurance given to the court on this matter.
In a letter, state chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao told Union water resources secretary Shashi Shekhar that the court had on September 30 recorded AG Mukul Rohatgi’s submission that CMB can be constituted on or before October 4. fe Bureau