NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has constituted a fresh bench of three judges to hear an age-old dispute related to the sharing of Cauvery water between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
The Supervisory Committee headed by G S Jha, chairperson of the Central Water Commission, agreed that both states have been facing water shortage and "in the absence of required water, the labour employment for farming and fishing is also limited, creating a scenario of unemployment and financial hardship to them."
"It has been seen from the data that this year is the consecutive low flow year. During the last five years it has been witnessed that three years are low flow years. In such a situation, the uncertainty prevails and farmers of the basin states suffer in the process... "Both the States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu need to appreciate interest of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in protection of their established irrigation and Karnataka's aspirations for development respectively and should educate their people accordingly," the report said.
Karnataka has declared 42 out of 48 talukas under the Cauvery basin as drought-affected. The state has also been at the receiving end of at least six interim rulings by the apex court to release water to Tamil Nadu, which it has unwillingly complied with, it said. The panel, after interacting with farmers and public representatives, also said that due to lack of water for irrigation in Karnataka, there is heavy impact on economy and many people have left villages seeking work in urban areas.
With regard to Tamil Nadu, it said agricultural labourers have been migrating from Cauvery Delta districts and many of them pushed to committing suicide due to financial burden. Earlier, the bench had directed Karnataka to release 2,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu from October 7-18, while deferring its order asking the Centre to set up the Cauvery Management Board till it finally decided on appeals relating to the dispute.
It had also agreed to the suggestion that a Supervisory Committee, comprising officials and technical experts from the Centre, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry, be set up to inspect the Cauvery basin for assessing the ground realities.