Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Cauvery river water row: Supreme Court refuses to interfere with CWRC, CWMA orders regarding release of 5000 cusecs to Tamil Nadu

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The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to interfere with the order passed by the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA), directing the State of Karnataka to release 5000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu at the interstate border Biligundlu for 15 days, starting September 13. 

The Bench of Justice BR Gavai, Justice PS Narasimha and Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra noted that the order was initially passed by the Cauvery Water Regulatory Committee (CWRC) and later upheld by CWMA after taking into consideration the shortfall of water this year and various other factors, such as the increasing distress condition in Cauvery basin in the past 15 days.

It said both the CWMA and CMRC consisted of various experts in the field of water resource management and agriculture, noting that appropriate authorities would monitor the situation after every 15 days.

Appearing for the State of Tamil Nadu, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi  argued that though the CWMA and CWRC have acknowledged that the state was eligible for release of 6400 cusecs, however, the same has been reduced to 5000 cusecs. 

He said it was a distress year for everyone. The calculation was based on Tamil Nadu being a lower agrarian state. In a regular year, the State would have been eligible for three times more, he added.

Representing the State of Karnataka, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan contended that the order of CWMA was against the interest of Karnataka, but was still being complied with. He said a separate application has been filed by Karnataka challenging the order, adding that the State did not even get the benefit of North East Monsoons. 

Earlier on August 31, the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) had filed an affidavit in the Apex Court, apprising it that the State of Karnataka had released 1,49,898 cusec (cubic feet per second) of Cauvery river water to the State of Tamil Nadu between August 12 and 26.

It said Karnataka fulfilled its August 11 directive by releasing a total of 1,49,898 cusec water at Biligundlu from August 12 to 26, 2023.

In its 22nd meeting on August 11, the CWMA had directed the State of Karnataka to release water at the rate 10000 cusec from the Krishna Raja Sagara and Kabini reservoirs, so that the flows were realised at Biligundlu, from August 12 onwards for the next 15 days.

The Authority said in the affidavit that during the 85th meeting of Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) held on August 28 and in the 23rd meeting of CWMA held on August 29, the member from Karnataka informed the authorities that water had been released as directed by CWMA.

It further said that tabulation of the average flow realised at Biligundlu during August 12 to 26 showed the cumulative flow realised during the 15 day period to be 149898 cusec.

The Authority further apprised the top court of the country that in its 23rd meeting held on August 29, directions were issued to Karnataka to ensure realisation of flows at Biligundlu at the rate of 5000 cusec from August 29 for the next 15 days.

The State of Tamil Nadu had approached the Supreme Court on August 14, seeking its intervention for prompt release of 24,000 cubic feet per second (cusecs) of water from Karnataka’s reservoirs. The objective was to secure the specified volume of water at Biligundlu on the interstate border for the remaining part of the month.

The Bench of Justice B.R. Gavai, Justice P.S. Narasimha and Justice Prashant Kumar directed the CWMA on August 25 to inform the Apex Court whether Karnataka had complied with the Authority’s direction on discharge of water to Tamil Nadu. 

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