Cauvery dispute: SC directs Karnataka to release 4 tmcft water to Tamil Nadu

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed Karnataka to release 4 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu to meet urgent water needs for April and May.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra warned the state of consequences if it failed to release water to Tamil Nadu.

The centre, represented by attorney general K.K. Venugopal, sought 10 more days to submit a draft scheme for effective implementation of its order on Cauvery water sharing between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.

He said the draft had to be placed before the cabinet, but the Prime Minister and other ministers were travelling due to the upcoming Karnataka elections.

“The centre should be given a day until after the Karnataka elections to get it approved,” he added. Karnataka assembly elections are scheduled to take place on 12 May.

Shekhar Naphade, counsel for Tamil Nadu argued the centre was not releasing water and was “politicizing the issue”.

“They are taking us for a ride, this is the end of cooperative federalism. What do we tell the people of Tamil Nadu?,” he asked.

The centre approached the apex court on 27 April for an additional two weeks to submit the draft scheme. In an earlier order, the court had directed the central government to submit the draft scheme by Thursday.

The government cited assembly elections in Karnataka and sought time beyond 12 May (election day) for putting the scheme in place.

On 16 February, the apex court ordered that under the new water sharing arrangement, Karnataka must release 177.25tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu against the earlier quantum of 192tmcft.

The court also allocated an additional 4.75tmcft to Bengaluru to meet the drinking water and domestic requirements of the “global city”. As a result, Karnataka will now receive 284.75tmcft as against the 270tmcft it gets at present.

The new water sharing scheme would be applicable for the next 15 years.

Allocation to Tamil Nadu now stands at 414.25tmcft annually, which includes 10 tmcft on account of availability of groundwater. Kerala and Puducherry continue to receive 30tmcft and 7tmcft, respectively.

The Cauvery water dispute is more than 150 years old and has its origins in the 1894 and 1924 agreements for water sharing between the then presidency states of Madras and Mysore. These agreements will remain in force despite the Reorganization Act, 1956, having taken effect, the order stated.

The judgment was passed on a batch of appeals by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, challenging the 2007 award passed by the Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal, which determined the utilizable quantum of water in the Cauvery at 740tmcft.livemint