Realistic assessment of requirements sought

With the talks between Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka ending in a stalemate on November 29, the Supreme Court on Friday asked Tamil Nadu to file an application by Saturday giving a realistic assessment on the requirement of water from December 1 to 15 to save the samba crop in the State.

A Bench of Justices D.K. Jain and Madan B. Lokur gave this direction to senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan, appearing for Tamil Nadu, when he pleaded for a direction to Karnataka to release water as only the court could now come to the State’s rescue. He said since 1983 it was the Supreme Court that saved the State when talks had invariably failed.

When Mr. Justice Jain asked Mr. Vaidyanathan what happened at yesterday’s meeting, the counsel said “meeting took place, but no result.” When Mr. Justice Lokur wanted to know whether there was a meaningful dialogue or a meaningless dialogue, counsel said “end result is talks failed.” He said “Karnataka’s attempt is somehow to delay.” However, Mr. Justice Jain said “don’t say only courts had saved you, Cauvery River Authority and Cauvery Monitoring Committee had also given some directions.”

When Mr. Justice Jain wanted to know whether the CMC meeting was held, senior counsel Anil Divan, appearing for Karnataka, said in view of the Chief Ministers’ meeting, the CMC meeting did not take place.

Mr. Vaidyanathan said “Tamil Nadu lost its kuruvai crop and because of delay in release of water by Karnataka, there is a possibility of samba crop also being lost.” He said there was storage of 48 tmcft of water in Karnataka at present.

Mr. Justice Jain asked the counsel “let us be realistic. How much water is needed by Tamil Nadu to save the crops?” counsel said “we need a minimum of 30 tmcft at the rate of two tmcft a day for 15 days from December 1 to 15.” Mr. Justice Jain told the counsel “can you give us a note with supporting documents your requirements by tomorrow so that we come prepared on Monday.”

Mr. Divan and Counsel Mohan Katarki for Karnataka said the State had at present storage of 37 tmcft and 33 tmcft was likely to accumulate up to December 15. “Though the requirement was 78 tmcft, the State would still have a deficit of eight tmcft,” they said. Mr. Justice Jain asked the counsel for Karnataka also to give a note with documents by Saturday.

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

On November 26, the court had suggested that Chief Ministers of two States meet to arrive at a political solution and accordingly the meeting was held on November 29.