NEW DELHI/ BENGALURU:It was time to rejoice in Karnataka on Friday as the state received major relief for the first time in its over century-long battle for its ‘rightful share’ in Cauvery water with the Supreme Court allocating an additional 14.75 tmcft of water to it. The apex court has also considered the water scarcity in Bengaluru and allocated 4.75 tmcft more to meet its drinking water needs.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra in its judgment on the inter-state dispute involving Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry declared Cauvery a national asset. The riparian states had challenged the award of Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal delivered on February 5, 2007.Karnataka has now been directed to release 177.25 tmcft instead of 192 tmcft — a reduction of 14.75 tmcft, from its Billigundlu site to Mettur dam in Tamil Nadu .
The Bench also upheld Karnataka’s plea for taking into account availability of 20 tmcft of groundwater in Tamil Nadu while deciding Tamil Nadu’s share of water in the Cauvery basin. The court held that it would take into account at least 10 tmcft of this groundwater and reduce this quantum of water from the 192 tmcft which Karnataka was earlier mandated to release on annual basis.
As for meeting the drinking water needs of Bengaluru, the Bench observed the city had attained the “global status” and its drinking water requirement had increased manifold. The Tribunal had not considered the growing needs of Bengaluru. The Bench allocated 4.75 tmcft to Bengaluru, brushing aside Tamil Nadu’s argument that Bengaluru is located outside the Cauvery basin.
The water allocation arrangement should stand unchanged for the next 15 years, the court said and upheld the award of 30 tmcft water to Kerala and 7 tmcft to Puducherry. The court warned the States against any deviation from the judgment or use the allotted water for other than the designated purposes.