Asks Karnataka counsel to comply with CMC recommendations
The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC), which is meeting here on Wednesday, to examine all questions as may be raised on behalf of the States of Tamil Nadu (TN) and Karnataka and make appropriate recommendations.
A Bench of Justices D.K. Jain and J.S. Khehar, while giving this direction, also recorded an undertaking from senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for Karnataka that Karnataka would comply with the recommendations which might be made by the CMC in letter and spirit.
Earlier senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan, appearing for TN, brought to the notice of the court that as per the interim award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal the deficit as on October 26 was 116.8 tmcft and as per the distress sharing formula, the deficit was 42 tmcft. He said the CMC did not take any decision on shortfall in water releases and was not deciding on the distress sharing formula.
He said the Water Resources Secretary wrote a letter on October 25/26 to the State Chief Secretary stating that the issue of shortfall of receipt of water by TN during the south west monsoon was an issue before the Supreme Court and the matter was sub judice. Mr. Vaidyanathan wanted the court to direct the CMC to consider all issues and evolve the distress sharing formula.
During the last hearing on October 12, the court questioned Karnataka’s action in releasing 3,000 cusecs to TN on some days and increasing the quantity over and above the stipulated 9,000 cusecs on some other days. “It might result in problem as some areas may be flooded or submerged because of the excess releases”, the court said.
Clarifying the position, Mr. Nariman said since the water released by Karnataka would reach only the Mettur reservoir in TN, irrespective of the quantum of water released by Karnataka on a particular day, it would not have any impact in TN, since the release of water to the Cauvery delta was done by TN. He said cumulatively Karnataka had complied with the directions on release of water to TN.
Justice Khehar intervened and observed ‘what is clear to us is it is very difficult to decide this problem.” Mr. Nariman agreed and said “every single political party in the respective States take a particular line.” Justice Jain retorted in lighter vein “it is heartening to note that at least on one issue there is no politics.” Justice Khehar asked Mr. Nariman to use his good offices to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of both the sides.
Even as Mr. Vaidyanathan disputed Mr. Nariman’s assertion that cumulatively total releases were maintained, Justice Jain told counsel for the parties “first let us concentrate on some interim arrangement. Since the CMC is meeting tomorrow we will clarify that CMC can go into all issues.”
In a brief order the Bench said “counsel for TN and Karnataka stated that since the CMC is meeting on October 31, the hearing on the applications may be deferred to await its recommendations. Counsel for TN has placed before us a letter written by Water Resources Secretary to the State Chief Secretary that the issue of shortfall of receipt of water by TN is an issue before the Supreme Court and is sub judice. Counsel says the CMC may be directed to go into all issues.”
Mr. Nariman intervened and told the court that the question of shortfall in receipt of water by TN was not a sub judice matter as it had been conclusively decided by the Cauvery River Authority headed by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The Bench then directed the CMC to examine all questions raised by both States and make its recommendation. While posting the matter for further hearing on November 26, the Bench made it clear that it would be open to both States to seek clarification from the court at an appropriate stage.