Directive comes after disputed claims by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka

With a view to assessing Tamil Nadu’s claim on the condition of the standing crops, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the Central Water Commission (CWC) Chairman to appoint an experts committee of three members to visit the Cauvery delta region of Thiruvarur, Thanjavur and Nagapattinam districts and submit a report to it latest by February 6.

A Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha, J. Chelameswar and Madan B. Lokur gave this direction following disputed claims by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on the standing crops’ condition in Tamil Nadu.

Till the report was submitted, the Bench said, Tamil Nadu, which had stopped release from the Mettur reservoir, could release 2 tmcft of water to save the standing crops and this quantity would have to be replenished by Karnataka.

Conflicting stand

The court said, “There is a conflicting stand of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on the standing crops. According to Tamil Nadu, as of today, 6 lakh acres of its delta region are under single samba paddy crop. Three lakh acres of this will require two wetting and the remaining one wetting and in all, the water requirement for this crop is 9 tmcft. In the affidavit filed by Karnataka today, it is stated that about 40% of the area has already been harvested. In the 50% of the area, the crop is ready for harvest. As regards remaining 10% of the area, it is stated that it is at the stage of physiological maturity and even in this area no water is required as the crop is in maturity stage.”

Earlier, senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan, appearing for Tamil Nadu, told the court that Karnataka’s claim for drinking water supply, including the requirement of Bangalore city as 23 tmcft was highly inflated and excessive. The pro-rata requirement from February to May would be only 6 tmcft and if availability of groundwater was taken into consideration, the requirement would be only 3 tmcft. He said the gross storage in the 4 reservoirs of Karnataka as on January 31 was 24.3 tmcft and the effective storage was 14.3 tmcft.

He sought a direction to Karnataka to release at least 9 tmcft.

Senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for Karnataka, disputed the figures given by Tamil Nadu. He said no water was required by that State as there was no standing crop. Even if there were some crops they were ready for harvesting and no water was required.

He suggested that the court depute a team from the CWC to verify the claim made by Tamil Nadu.

Water released

from Mettur

T. Ramakrishnan reports from Chennai:

Following the court order, the Tamil Nadu authorities started releasing 9,000 cusecs from the Mettur dam from 9 p.m. on Monday. This will go on for three days, an official said.