Karnataka will have to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu from tomorrow till September 27, the Supreme Court said today while raising the quantum the fixed by the Supervisory Committee by 3000 cusecs.
The apex court also gave liberty to both states to file objections against the directions of the Cauvery Supervisory Committee yesterday, asking Karnataka to release 3,000 cusecs of water daily to Tamil Nadu between September 21 and 30.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit also directed the Centre to constitute within four weeks the Cauvery Water Management Board (CWMB) as directed by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) in its award.
It also directed the Centre to produce before it on the next date of hearing, the notification indicating that CWMB has been constituted and said, if required, further direction can be passed by the apex court to the CWMB.
“How long will the two states keep fighting? This dispute is there from 1894. Cauvery Water Management Board (CWMB) is an expert body and it needs to be constituted. Just because the problem had not arisen earlier doesn’t mean that the problem will never arise in future,” the bench told ASG Pinky Anand, appearing for Centre.
The apex court took note of the fact that no consensus was reached among the states before the Supervisory Committee and Union Water Resources Secretary and Chairman of the Committee Shashi Shekhar used his power to ask Karnataka to release 3000 cusecs of water daily to Tamil Nadu.
Senior advocate and noted jurist F S Nariman, appearing for Karnataka, opposed the supervisory committee order and said the state was aggrieved by the order.
“We cannot give water to Tamil Nadu from our drinking water supply,” Nariman said while opposing any interim arrangement for release of Cauvery water.
Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, also opposed the directions, saying the supervisory committee has not considered all aspects while passing the order.
He said the committee had failed to consider the fact that it was a rain deficient year and the quantum of water to be released has to be done proportionally.
“We need water here and now otherwise our Samba crops which are planted in August-September and harvested in December will be destroyed,” Naphade said.
During the nearly two-hour hearing, both states strongly argued their case, with Karnataka saying it will be difficult to release water to Tamil Nadu for irrigation purposes by cutting drinking water supply to Bengaluru.
Tamil Nadu on other hand said it was fallacy on part of Karnataka that it does not want to accept that it was not a normal year and there was 46 per cent deficient rainfall.
Nariman urged the bench to either refer back the matter to the Supervisory Committee for proper consideration of all facts or let Tamil Nadu file a petition raising objection to the committee’s decision, which was a ‘pro tem’ (temporary) arrangment till the CWMB was constituted.
He said as per the CWDT award, Karnataka was asked to release 192 TMC of Cauvery water every year but the monthly release of water was tentative depending on various factors.
The senior lawyer further said if Karnataka was asked to supply more water to Tamil Nadu, it will have serious consequences.
Naphade contended that Tamil Nadu needed water before October 15 or the Samba crop in the state will be affected and said “there can’t be a camel-like approach that you consume water now and use it later”.
“The Supervisory Committee doesn’t know its job. We are aggrieved by the order of the committee. There has to be seasonal allocation,” he said.
To this, the bench said “you (Karnataka) are aggrieved by Supervisory Committee’s order which has suggested some figure and they (Tamil Nadu) are aggrieved. We are also aggrieved. Centre has not constituted the board which should have been constituted and a regulatory committee should have been constituted under the board for effective implementation of tribunal’s award”.
The apex court said it is not disputed by anyone that the board has to be constituted and it is the duty of the Centre to see that Cauvery Water Management Board is constituted within a stipulated time and till then, some interim arrangment can be made.
Nariman vehemently opposed the view of the court about an interim management, and said “it will be a wrong order. I have practiced in this court for long. No one is as much senior than me in this court. It will be an erroneous order if any pro tem arrangement is made.”
To this, the court said “when there is an award, there is monthly allocation of water. There is a perception, and the possibility of reduction and adjustment is always there. That there should not be any pro tem arrangment does not impress us. Whatever you (Nariman) have to say, you can. We will record it but we will go by the jurisdiction as per law. We will record your opposition.”
On September 12, the apex court had asked both the states to ensure that “law and order” prevails.
It had modified its earlier order on sharing of Cauvery water and directed Karnataka to release 12,000 cusecs instead of 15,000 cusecs per day till September 20 to Tamil Nadu.
The apex court bench was also critical of the language used in the plea of Karnataka seeking to keep in abeyance the September 5 order asking it to release 15,000 cusecs water per day to Tamil Nadu.