NEW DELHI/ BENGALURU: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Karnataka government to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu from today till September 27. The 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 and file its notification on next date of hearing.
The Karnataka government, expressing its disappointment at the twin decisions of the apex court, has said it will take a final decision on Wednesday after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning and all-party meeting in the evening. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said, “We are committed to protect the interest of farmers and people of Karnataka. The cabinet meeting will discuss the pros and cons of implementing the SC order. We will take the opinion of legal team and technical experts.”
At the meeting with leaders of all political parties and MLAs and MPs of the Cauvery basin, the government will evolve a consensual stand. Siddaramaiah also spoke to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and AICC General Secretary in-charge of party affairs in Karnataka Digvijay Singh, explaining the ground realities in the state. He is said to have conveyed his readiness to respect the public opinion instead of meekly releasing water to Tamil Nadu by “sacrificing the interests of the people of Karnataka”.
The Supreme Court ruling in effect accords 12,000 cusecs more than the quantum of water release fixed by the Cauvery Supervisory Committee on Monday. The CSC had ordered release of 3,000 cusecs from September 21-30.
The court gave liberty to both states to file objections against the CSC directions. “How long will the two states keep fighting? This dispute has been there from 1894. CWMB is an expert body and needs to be constituted. Just because the problem had not arisen earlier doesn’t mean it will never arise in future,” the bench told ASG Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre.
In a two-hour long hearing, both states 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.
Senior advocate F S Nariman, appearing for Karnataka, said, “We cannot give water to Tamil Nadu from our drinking water supply,” Nariman said while opposing any interim arrangement for release of Cauvery water.