Supreme Court tells Karnataka and Tamil Nadu Chief Ministers to try for a solution to Cauvery row

The Supreme Court suggested on Monday that the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka meet to find a political solution to the Cauvery dispute in the interests of farmers.

A Bench of Justices D.K. Jain and Madan B. Lokur gave the suggestion to senior counsel Fali Nariman and senior counsel Anil Divan, appearing for Karnataka, and senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan and Additional Advocate- General Guru Krishna Kumar, appearing for Tamil Nadu.

The Bench was hearing an application by Tamil Nadu for a directive to Karnataka to release 52.8 tmcft of water till February 2013 to save the crops grown on 15 lakh acres. Tamil Nadu also wanted the court to properly define the ‘season’ to ensure that adequate water was released to protect the interests of farmers.

Even as Mr. Vaidyanathan commenced his arguments, Justice Jain told counsel for both States: “This can’t go on for ever. “Why can’t the two CMs sit together and give a try [for an amicable solution], it is not impossible.”

When Justice Jain asked whether the Chief Ministers had ever met, counsel said they met during the meeting convened by the Prime Minister-led Cauvery River Authority (CRA) and only once independently in the 1970s.

In a lighter vein, Justice Jain said: “The moment any one of them blinks, it might be a problem [in arriving at an amicable solution]. We want you to meet in a congenial manner and discuss the issue in the larger interest of farmers from both States. Try to find out a solution through [a] give and take [approach]. The Chief Ministers should not meet just for coffee but they should meet along with their experts to file a solution.”

Agreeing to the suggestion, Mr. Nariman said: “There is no problem… and the Karnataka Chief Minister will certainly meet.”

But Mr. Vaidyanathan sought time to take instructions. The Bench then posted the matter for further hearing on November 30.

Tamil Nadu said the storage in the Mettur dam was barely sufficient for 10 days of irrigation. Karnataka should make good the shortfall of 52.8 tmcft, accrued during the south-west monsoon as per the pro-rata sharing, to sustain the samba crop or the whole crop raised on 15 lakh acres would be under severe stress, affecting the livelihood of 15 million people. It should release more water due under the interim order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal till the irrigation season was over, since the crop period may have to be extended till February 2013.

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