The Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC) met on Thursday and asked Karnataka to release a further 4.81 tmcft of river water to Tamil Nadu at Biligundlu within the next 15 days. It, however, did not decide the quantum of shortfall in releases during the season, which as per the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal’s interim award, Karnataka must make up by the end of the season.

Tamil Nadu maintained that there was a shortfall of 52 tmcft between June and September and wanted Karnataka to make up for that. Karnataka, however, contested this.

Dispute over what constitutes a season

The meeting, chaired by Water Resources Secretary D.V. Singh, noted that due to deficient southwest monsoon, both the States were in distress, but added that since what constitutes a “season” was not clearly defined in the tribunal’s order, it was unable to decide the quantum of shortfall in releases. While Tamil Nadu held that a season was between June and September, Karnataka said that a season continues till the end of December. Informed sources said the matter would be decided either by the Tribunal or the Supreme Court.

The official-level CMC assists the Cauvery River Authority chaired by the Prime Minister, with the Chief Ministers of the Cauvery basin States as members.

The meeting was informed that the current level in the Mettur dam was 27.4 tmcft, against the last 10 years’ average of 60 tmcft. Likewise, the average water level in the Karnataka reservoirs was 46.4 tmcft compared to the last 10 years’ average of 63.4 tmcft. “Distress cannot be denied,” the CMC order said.

Although the situation has improved due to a good northeast monsoon, the CMC will meet again on November 28 to review the situation.