In its damages suit in the Supreme Court against Karnataka for shortfall in Cauvery water releases, the Tamil Nadu government is relying on norms for overdrawing of power by individual states to buttress its claim that the upper riparian state should pay reparations for failing to stick to scheduled releases.

Drawing a comparison with charges prescribed by the Central Regulatory Commission for overdrawing power from the grid, Tamil Nadu wants Karnataka to pay compensation for retention of water in excess of its entitlement. It also sought punitive damages for “repeated, wanton, deliberate failure to fulfil its obligations”, especially after it had made unlawful gains at the cost of farmers of Tamil Nadu.”

Tamil Nadu has filed a suit in the Supreme Court seeking about Rs. 2,500 crore damages from Karnataka for loss of samba and kuruvai crops in the State due to the non-release of water by Karnataka as per the distress water-sharing formula , of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal’s interim award.

In its suit, Tamil Nadu also sought a direction to Karnataka to release 53.18 tmcft of water - the shortfall during the previous water year. The State pointed out that in the last 21 years there was no voluntary release of waters from the reservoirs during the crucial months of June to September as per the Interim Order of the Tribunal. The scheme framed by the Central government, for the implementation of the Interim Order, had failed to ensure and protect the rights of inhabitants of the Plaintiff State.

“No voluntary releases, only overflows”

“The plaintiff states that the first defendant, while not adhering to the stipulated release of water as per the Interim Order of the Tribunal, also appropriated all the waters of the river in Karnataka. There has been no voluntary release of water by the first defendant, to comply with the orders of the Tribunal, at any point of time in the last 21 years, except when certain directions were issued by this Court, or when the reservoirs were overflowing due to heavy rain. ”

The suit further said the water year 2012-2013 was a low flow year and, as per the order of the Tribunal, the distress situation should have been shared on pro-rata basis. “It has been assessed by the Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC) that there is a shortfall of 39.7 per cent in the total inflows received in the four major reservoirs of Karnataka during June to December, 2012.”

It sought a direction to Karnataka to pay damages to the tune of Rs. 1,045.70 crore towards loss of crops, loss of bio mass and loss of power generation, on account of non-release of water during the irrigation year 2012-2013 as per the pro rata share of waters as per the Interim Order notified on 10.12.1991; to pay punitive damages of Rs. 1,434 crore for deliberate non-compliance of the decision passed by the Tribunal and to direct Karnataka to release 53.18 TMC ft. being the shortfall at Mettur Reservoir for the water year 2012-2013 as computed on the pro rata formula.

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