In an interim order which may ameliorate the plight of Tamil Nadu farmers to some extent, Supreme Court today asked Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of Cauvery water daily for the next 10 days to its neighbouring state.
The apex court also directed Tamil Nadu to approach the Supervisory Committee, set up to implement award of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT), within three days for the release of Cauvery water as per the final order of Tribunal.
“The Supervisory Committee shall pass appropriate direction in this regard within four days from the date of filing of the reference, keeping in view the language employed in the final order of the Tribunal. Be it clarified, the Supervisory Committee is bound by the language used in the order passed by the Tribunal…
“Coming to the immediate arrangement, keeping in view the gesture shown by the State of Karnataka and the plight that has been projected with agony by Mr Naphade, we think it appropriate to direct that 15,000 cusecs of water per day be released at Biligundulu by the State of Karnataka for ten days,” a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit said.
It also directed Tamil Nadu to release water to the Union Territory of Puducherry proportionately as per its interim arrangement, while posting the matter for further hearing on September 16.
The order came after senior advocate Fali S Nariman, appearing for Karnataka, said as a “goodwill gesture” the state government was ready to ensure flow of 10,000 cusecs (about 0.86 TMC) per day from September 7 to 12.
However, Tamil Nadu sought release of 20,000 cusecs of water per day instead of 10,000 cusecs of water in the interest of the farmers of the state.
During the hearing, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, contended that Karnataka has not been complying with the Tribunal’s directions in the final order and there has been flagrant violation of the same.
He said that if the water is not released by Karnataka, the ‘samba’ crops will be damaged, which will lead to disastrous consequences for the farmers of Tamil Nadu. On September 2, the Supreme Court had made an emotional appeal to Karnataka saying ‘live and let live’, after Tamil Nadu brought to the notice of the court that the Karnataka CM has said that not a drop of water will be released to it.
In a recent plea, Tamil Nadu had sought a direction to Karnataka to release 50.52 tmc feet of Cauvery water to save 40,000 acres of samba crops this season.
The apex court had earlier refused to give an urgent hearing to Tamil Nadu’s plea for setting up of Cauvery Management Board for implementation of the CWDT award.
At the directions of the apex court, the Centre, in 2013, had notified the final award of the CWDT on sharing of water of the Cauvery system among the basin states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and union territory of Puducherry.
The CWDT had recommended the setting up of a Cauvery Management Board/Authority on the lines of the Bhakra Beas Management Board for implementation of the order.
The board, in turn, would constitute a Cauvery Water Regulation Committee for assistance.
The Tribunal, in a unanimous decision in 2007, had determined the total availability of water in the Cauvery basin at 740 thousand million cubic (tmc) feet at the Lower Coleroon Anicut site, including 14 tmcft for environmental protection and seepage into the sea.
The final award made an annual allocation of 419 tmcft to Tamil Nadu in the entire Cauvery basin, 270 tmcft to Karnataka, 30 tmcft to Kerala and 7 tmcft to Puducherry.