Citing the requirement of drinking water for Bengaluru, the Supreme Court (SC) today lowered the amount of Cauvery water due to Tamil Nadu, to 404.25 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet), from the 419 tmcft allotted by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) in February 2007.
The SC allotted Karnataka 270 tmcft Cauvery water, which is 14.75 tmcft more than the Tribunal award. In addition to Bengaluru’s need for more drinking water, the SC also took note of the fact that the city’s industrial needs have also risen. There’s no change in the allotment for Puducherry (30 tmcft) and Kerala (7tmcft). The SC permitted Tamil Nadu (TN) to draw additional 10 tmcft ground water from a total available 20 tmcft beneath Cauvery basin. This Tamil Nadu Cauvery water share would only reduce by 4.75 tmcft.
So, the SC said, Karnataka will be releasing 177.25 tmcft Cauvery water to TN from Biligundulu every year. With these minor changes, the SC said, it is fully endorsing the method used by the Tribunal to give its final award in 2007.
The Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra authored today’s unanimous verdict of the three-judge bench. Karnataka is happy with the verdict.
In February 2007, the CWDT ordered that Tamil Nadu should receive 419 tmcft of water, and Karnataka should release 192 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu in 10 monthly instalments every year. Before the 2007 order, Tamil Nadu had asked for 562 tmcft – roughly three-fourths of the water available in the Cauvery basin – and Karnataka had asked for 465 tmcft – around two-thirds of the available water.
Today’s verdict was on petitions filed by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, both of whom were unhappy with the Tribunal’s 2007 final order. Karnataka was the first to challenge this award in the SC.
On September 20 last year, the bench of CJI Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar reserved its verdict on the cross-petitions filed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. Prior to that, in August 2016, the Tamil Nadu government sought the SC’s intervention, saying that there was a deficit of 50.0052 tmcft of water released from Karnataka’s reservoirs, with respect to the minimum limit prescribed by the CDWT. Following that, on September 6, 2016, the SC ordered Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu every day for the following 10 days. A day later, Karnataka’s Mandya, Mysuru and Hassan districts witnessed intense and often violent protests, as the state’s chief minister Siddaramaiah said his government would have to release the water, but with “a heavy heart”. He added the state would file a petition in the SC seeking modification of the order.
By- Nikita Goel, Convener, Student Reporter Committee, INBA