The Karnataka Government has moved the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as Chairperson of the Cauvery River Authority refusing to review his order directing Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu from September 20 to October 15. In its special leave petition, Karnataka maintained that the CRA by an order dated October 11 had rejected the plea to review the order on the ground that the review petition was not maintainable. It contended that the review order stating “there is no provision for filing of a Review Petition by a State against the decision taken by the Chairperson of the Authority is erroneous” and contrary to the scheme of the interim award of the Tribunal under which the CRA was constituted.
The SLP said the order was passed contrary to ground realities in the Cauvery basin of Karnataka “which is suffering from severe drought with inflow being short by 42 per cent when Chairperson decided” and passed the order on September 19.
It said the Chairperson of the CRA failed to note that he had power to review or recall his orders as he exercised quasi judicial powers deciding disputes between the States arising from the interpretation or implementation of the orders of the Inter-State Tribunal.
“The decision of the Chairperson of the CRA is prejudicial to the interest of the State of Karnataka and its inhabitants and the water released under the said order,” the State said and sought a direction to quash the order dated October 11 rejecting the review petition.
In its reply to Tamil Nadu’s plea to direct Karnataka to release 2 tmcft of water daily for 24 days till the onset of the north east monsoon, Karnataka maintained that the irregularities in daily releases “do not in any way affect farming operations— because no part of the water that flows from Karnataka at the border of Biligundlu flows directly to the delta region (or the fields) but is first deposited in the Mettur reservoir to enhance the existing storage at any given point of time in the Mettur reservoir.”
It said, “There is no direct link between the releases recorded at Biligundlu and the releases from the Mettur reservoir for irrigation depended on it. Deferred releases from Karnataka at the interstate border Biligundlu do not affect and have not affected downstream releases from Mettur, as live storage at Mettur did not go down below 42 tmcft between September 12 and 19 and did not go down below 28 tmcft between September 20 and October 15. Hence, cumulative accounting of the flows is not at all prejudicial to the interest of Tamil Nadu. Hence, this year’s drawal of 57 tmcft during June to September is 17 per cent lesser than the average drawl of last 5 years, which is 68.93 tmcft,” the State said.