The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to entertain a petition by Tamil Nadu to increase its current share of Cauvery river water from 5,000 to 7,200 cusecs per day, reported Live Law.
A bench of Justices BR Gavai, PS Narasimha and Prashant Kumar Mishra said that it was not inclined to interfere with the order of the Cauvery Water Management Authority and the Cauvery Water Regulatory Committee.
Tamil Nadu stated in its petition that the Cauvery Water Management Authority had initially decided that the state required 7,200 cusecs of water from the Cauvery river, but abruptly changed the final amount to 5,000 cusecs in the final order.
“It is a distress year for everyone,” said senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Tamil Nadu. “I am a lower agrarian state. The calculation is based on that. In a regular year, I would have been eligible for three times more.”
On the other hand, senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing the Karnataka government, told the Supreme Court that the management authority’s order for supplying 5,000 cusecs of water every day was “against the interest” of the state, but was still being complied with. The state also contended that the situation has worsened in the past 15 days due to the failure of the south-west monsoon.
“The authorities should not have ordered Karnataka to give more than 3,000 cusecs per day,” the Karnataka government said in an application. “Even at the reservoir level, which covers a part of the catchment, the shortfall is 53.42%. If the shortfall is considered up to the inter-state border Biligundulu, where flows are accountable, shortfall and distress would be much more than 53.42%.”
The court said it was satisfied that the management and regulatory committees had taken all factors into account, especially the distress situation in the Cauvery basin, before deciding on the figure of 5,000 cusecs.
The Tamil Nadu government, in its petition filed last month, had demanded that Karnataka should immediately release 24,000 cusecs of water from its reservoirs at Billigundulu for the remaining period of August, starting from August 14.
It had also sought directions to Karnataka to release 36.76 thousand million cubic feet for September as stipulated by the Cauvery Water Disputes Removal Tribunal. Karnataka opposed the demand, citing low rainfall.
The distribution of Cauvery water has been a long-standing dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. It dates back to two agreements in 1892 and 1924 between the erstwhile Madras Presidency and the Princely State of Mysore.
The Union government set up the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in 1990, which delivered its verdict in 2007. The tribunal allocated 419 thousand million cubic feet of water per year to Tamil Nadu and 270 thousand million cubic feet of water to Karnataka.
However, this did not settle the dispute as both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka filed petitions to review the decision.
The Supreme Court in February 2018 asked the Centre to set up the Cauvery Water Management Authority within a month to implement the tribunal’s verdict.