In a goodwill gesture, the Karnataka government on Monday agreed before the Supreme Court to release 10,000 cusecs of water from Cauvery river to Tamil Nadu till September 20.
In wake of Karnataka’s gesture, a bench of justices D.K. Jain and Madan Lokur refused to pass any order on Tamil Nadu’s plea for direction to its neighbouring state to release 2 TMC of water. The bench hoped the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) headed by the Prime Minister would be able to find an “amicable” solution to the river water dispute.
The court also disposed of Karnataka’s plea, saying if it is kept pending, the authority might not find a solution to the dispute and will be ultimately left to it to decide it.
The bench, however, allowed the state governments to take appropriate steps if the CRA meeting does not take place.
The CRA, comprising Chief Ministers of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala, is scheduled to take place on September 19.
The bench, which had earlier pulled up the PMO officials for not fixing a date for the CRA meeting, also took a dig today at the Centre whose lawyers were absent during the hearing of the case.
“As a goodwill gesture, the state of Karnataka, by way of ad-hoc arrangement, is willing to release extra water in order to ensure that on and from September 12, ten thousand cusecs flow of water is ensured only till September 20,” the bench said in its order.
The bench said the CRA should explore the solution and it should not be left for the court to take a decision on the controversial issue.
“We expect and hope that the meeting of CRA takes place and some amicable solution to the problem is found,” the bench said.
The bench, however, clarified that it is only an interim arrangement till September 20 and the state governments can take appropriate steps if no solution of the problem comes out of the CRA meeting.
“We, however, clarify that, in case due to any reason, the meeting of CRA does not take place or no decision is taken in the meeting then it will be open to both the parties to take appropriate steps as may be advised,” the bench said.
The bench also expressed surprise over the absence of counsel for the Union government in the court when it (the bench) was dictating the order.
“If we say something they (Centre) feel aggrieved but the Union of India is absent,” the bench observed.
The bench on September 3 had pulled up the PMO officials for not holding a meeting of CRA to resolve the water-sharing dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
“It is surprising and shocking that you require consent of the states for even fixing the date for the meeting. For fixing a date, it requires the convenience of the PM or the convenience of states?” the bench had said.
In its application, Tamil Nadu had said during the current irrigation year 2012—2013, though the south west monsoon is not vigorous in the Cauvery catchment of Karnataka, the state of Karnataka has received 21.9 TMCft of inflow in its four major reservoirs up to July 20.
“But it has not shared the water with Tamil Nadu. Instead it started to build the storages in its 4 major reservoirs and letting water in the canals of Krishna Raja Sagar for irrigation with the result that the state of Tamil Nadu has been deprived of its due share of water as per the interim order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal,” the application said.
It had complained that over the years, Karnataka did not agree to the distress sharing formula evolved by the Central Water Commission/Cauvery Monitoring Committee, with the result that it “resorts to impounding all the flows in its reservoirs depriving the state of Tamil Nadu in getting its legitimate flows, more so during the lean years, thus aggravating the distress situation.”
Tamil Nadu had said “during the current irrigation season 2012—13 also, the southwest monsoon has not been active so far in the Catchment area of Cauvery, with the result that there is a distress situation and since there is no agreed formula for sharing the flows in such distress years, the state is put to hardship.”