The Court has asked the State to file report on the quantity of water it shared with Tamil Nadu

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Karnataka Government to file a brief affidavit to the Tamil Nadu Government’s application seeking immediate release of 12 tmcft of water from its reservoirs to save at least a portion of the standing crops in the Cauvery delta region and also meet its drinking water requirements.

A Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and J. Chelameswar also directed Karnataka to indicate in the affidavit the quantum of water it had utilised for drinking purposes from 1992 till 2007, when the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal gave its final award, and from 2007 till 2012 after the award.

The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on Tuesday.

Justice Lodha told senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for Karnataka, “No doubt water for drinking purposes has to get priority, but a balance has to be struck. We find from the orders passed by the Cauvery Monitoring Authority that it has proceeded on the basis that the drinking water requirements of your State up to May is 23 tmcft.”

Earlier, this was disputed by senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan, appearing for Tamil Nadu, who said that Karnataka’s requirement for drinking water was only 5 tmcft and Karnataka should be directed to release at least 9 tmcft out of the 15.6 tmcft storage.

When Justice Lodha told Mr. Nariman, “You release 6 tmcft of water”, counsel said, “This will be opposed by the political establishment. He said, “Whenever court passes some orders they cause a lot of disquiet.”

Justice Lodha told counsel, “Some out of box thinking is required to sort out the dispute because you have not been implementing the orders.” Mr. Nariman conceded “there has been some default on our side because the demand from the other side is too much we feel and the final award has given too much to them [Tamil nadu].”

In its application, Tamil Nadu stated, “At its meeting the CMC recorded that the deficit in flow during the current water year is 39.7 per cent, and found that there is a shortfall of 31.4 tmcft. which was to be received by the Tamil Nadu as per the interim order of the Cauvery Tribunal and applying the pro-rata release on account of deficit in rainfall.

“The CMC, in spite of holding that there is a deficit of 31.4 tmc ft., and observing that Karnataka has not regulated flows as per the award, did not direct Karnataka to release any water from the available storage, on account of an arbitrary decision that the available storage of 16 tmcft will be required for drinking water purposes of Karnataka till May 31, 2013.

“The CMC without appreciating the dire need of Tamil Nadu and also considering the conduct of Karnataka, failed to give any direction to save the standing crops in Tamil Nadu, in spite of the fact that during the southwest monsoon period from June to September, 2012 Karnataka did not make good the shortfall in flow due to Tamil Nadu and it had also increased the area in the four major reservoirs and also had withdrawn much more quantity than prescribed in the final order.

Single samba paddy crop

“Out of about 15 lakh acres under single samba paddy crop in Tamil Nadu, the farmers have given up further activities on almost 3 lakh acres for want of water. Of the remaining 12 lakh acres, water is required for about 9 lakh acres for one irrigation and for about 3 lakh acres for two irrigations in January/February, 2013.”