Cauvery panel asked to meet within two days; judges ask Centre to indicate time frame for notifying final decision of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal

Directing Karnataka to release 10,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu from Wednesday till December 9, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to indicate the time frame within which it would notify the final decision of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal given on February 5, 2007.

A Bench of Justices D.K. Jain and Madan B Lokur passed this order during the course of hearing on an application from Tamil Nadu for a direction to release 30 tmcft of water by December 15.

The 10,000 cusecs order would mean that Tamil Nadu may receive a total of around 4 tmcft of water by the end of Sunday.

Senior counsel Fali Nariman and Anil Divan, appearing for Karnataka, urged the court not to pass any ad hoc order and insisted that the Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC), being the expert body, should decide the issue.

Accordingly, the Bench directed the CMC to hold its next meeting either on Thursday or Friday to decide the quantum of water required by both States for the month of December, keeping in view the standing crops. The Bench said till the CMC passed its order the direction to release 10,000 cusecs to Tamil Nadu would continue till Sunday, December 9.

Justice Jain told counsel that the immediate concern was to save the standing crops and other issues could be decided later on. “Both States are distressed and we have to see how best we can save crops in both the States. We would keep our eyes to the requirement of both the States and find out a practical solution to the problem.”

During arguments on Tuesday, senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan, appearing for Tamil Nadu, brought to the court’s notice the lack of a regulatory mechanism for monitoring water releases from Karnataka. He said though the Tribunal in its final decision had recommended constitution of a Cauvery Management Board, since the award was yet to be notified it could not be implemented.

On Wednesday, counsel for both States said there was no objection to the final decision being notified in the Gazette by the Government of India as contemplated under the Inter State Water Disputes Act.

As per the final award, Tamil Nadu’s share to be released by Karnataka at the Billigundulu gauging station is 192 tmcft. From this 192 tmcft, Tamil Nadu will release 7 tmcft to Puducherry. The Tribunal’s award will come into effect within 90 days of its notification by the Centre.

The Bench asked Additional Solicitor-General Harin Raval to indicate the time within which the Ministry of Water Resources would notify the final decision of the Tribunal and inform the court on December 10.