The Karnataka government and farmers of the Cauvery basin districts, apart from the people of Bangalore city who are dependant on the river for drinking water, are anxiously awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court, which is expected to hear the review petition on Monday, on the all-important issue of keeping in abeyance the orders of the Cauvery River Authority, which has directed the release of 9,000 cusecs of water a day to the lower riparian State of Tamil Nadu, till October 15.
Karnataka has stepped up water release over the past three days and this is likely to continue until the forenoon of Monday, obviously to ensure that the State complies with the directions of both the Supreme Court and the CRA.
The apex court has categorically told Karnataka that it should comply with the directions of the CRA and over the past 28 days the State has released nearly 22 tmcft of water.
Amid the water-sharing dispute between the two States, the Cauvery Monitoring Committee will meet in New Delhi on October 11 to decide on the issue of release of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu post the compliance of the orders scheduled until October 15.
Meanwhile, Karnataka is hoping that the water outflow at Biligundlu (measuring station along the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border) will be drastically reduced from 9,000 cusecs until the meeting of the CMC, should the Supreme court favourably consider the plea.
Sources in the State Secretariat told The Hindu that the water release from Krishnaraja Sagar and the Kabini dam had been stepped up over the past three days, primarily to convey that the State had complied with the orders, by virtue of which its plea should also be heard and favourably disposed of.
The former Chief Minister S.M. Krishna and the then Minister for Water Resources H.K. Patil, among others, had drawn the ire of the apex court in 2002, resulting in them having to face two contempt petitions filed by the Government of Tamil Nadu. It was only six years later that the cases were dropped after Mr. Krishna tendered an “unconditional apology”.
It is said that even in the present instance, both the CRA and the Supreme Court have been tough, as the Karnataka government initially declared that not a drop of water would be released to the lower riparian State.
Tamil Nadu had demanded release of 2 tmcft of water a day (around 22,000 cusecs), while the Supreme Court had asked Karnataka to release 10,000 cusecs. The CRA, after hearing the views of both the States, ruled the release of 9,000 cusecs.
Officials of the Union government who have been on a field visit to the Cauvery basin districts in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the past three days have returned to New Delhi.
The monitoring committee will decide on the quantity of water to be released by Karnataka after October 15.
The CMC also comprises officials of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.