The Tamil Nadu government has approached the Supreme Court seeking urgent directions to restrain Karnataka from taking up summer irrigation and consequent depletion of storages in the reservoirs in Karnataka, in contravention of the final order passed by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in February 2007.

In its application, Tamil Nadu said the Tribunal in its final award on February 5, 2007 had allocated Kerala 30 tmc ft; Karnataka 270 tmcft; Tamil Nadu 419 tmcft and Puduchery seven tmcft out of the total 740 tmcft available for allocation.

It said in the last few years after the final award was passed Karnataka had been increasing its summer cultivation and had been depleting its reservoirs by huge quantities during the summer months for irrigation almost emptying the storages. They deliberately deplete their reservoirs during summer months (January to May) and keep the storages at a very low level so that they could impound more water from June onwards and use them for irrigation, thereby depriving Tamil Nadu of its due share of water to be released from June onwards when the water year would commence.

The application said as on March 15, the storage in the four reservoirs had been depleted and only about 20 to 30 tmcft would remain by the end of May, as against the full storage of 114.5 tmcft.

Storage depleting

It said since Karnataka was depleting the storage from February to May for building up its storage from June to September, Tamil Nadu could not meet its irrigation requirement from June to September because of shortfall in inflow into Mettur reservoir.

Tamil Nadu contended that no depletion should take place from the Karnataka reservoirs during the summer months other than for reasonable needs of perennial crops and drinking water requirements. Hence, it sought a direction to restrain Karnataka from taking up new irrigation projects that would affect release of water to Tamil Nadu from June.

Tamil Nadu also moved an application before the Tribunal that it should take up the petition seeking review of the final order. The Tribunal had not taken up the application on the ground that appeals had been filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala against the final award and till these appeals were disposed of the review could not be taken up.

In the present application, Tamil Nadu said since the Supreme Court had not stayed the final award, there was no bar on the Tribunal from taking up the review petitions.

It said, “Cauvery is the lifeline of Tamil Nadu which contributes about 45 per cent of the total surface flows in Tamil Nadu. The State of Karnataka, which is the upper riparian, is duty-bound to ensure the stipulated flows to Tamil Nadu during the irrigation season every year. The failure to adhere to the stipulated releases by indiscriminate use of waters during the irrigation and non-irrigation season by the State of Karnataka affects the agriculture and consequently the economy of the State which is largely agro-based in the Cauvery Basin.”