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The Cauvery river dispute over the years

SC slams Karnataka, but modifies order on Cauvery water release to TN

"Citizens cannot become a law unto themselves. Once the Supreme Court orders something, it is the obligation of the Executive and citizens to obey".

September 12, 2016 12:37 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 09:56 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

File photo of Krishnaraja Sagar dam.

File photo of Krishnaraja Sagar dam.

In a stern message asking people in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu “to behave”, the Supreme Court on Monday refused a > plea by the Siddaramiah government to freeze a > September 5 order on release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu for 10 days.

The court, however, reduced the quantum of daily water release ordered earlier, from 15,000 cusecs to 12,000 cusecs. The release of water should continue till September 20. A Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U.U. Lalit, presiding over a specially convened session on a court holiday, slammed Karnataka for asking the court to keep in “abeyance” an order because it had sparked violence, calling the demand “absolutely disturbing and to say the least, totally deprecable.”

The apex court modified its September 5 order, heeding senior advocate and Karnataka counsel Fali Nariman’s submission that “there is a need for water as there is less of drinking water and the sufferings of the farmers are immense” in the State. This modified order would be in vogue till September 20, the date of the next court hearing.

The Bench observed that the executive should not be cowed down while doing its constitutional duties.

“An order of this Court has to be complied with by all concerned and it is the obligation of the executive to see that the order is complied with in letter and spirit. Concept of deviancy has no room and disobedience has no space...” the Supreme Court declared.

The court warned miscreants in both States who resorted to rampage instead of pursuing available legal remedies: “Citizens cannot become law unto themselves. When a court of law passes an order, it is the sacred duty of the citizens to obey the same. We expect the inhabitants of both the States, namely, the State of Karnataka and State of Tamil Nadu, shall behave, regard being had to the respect for law and order.”

Our ground realities real: Karnataka

The 12-page court order made scathing remarks about Karnataka’s apprehensions about “spontaneous agitations” in the State.

The State maintained that it was not just the paralysis of normal life and destruction of public and private properties worth “hundreds of crores of rupees” that made it return to the Supreme Court, but other “ground realities of needs and requirements” too.

During the arguments, Mr. Nariman urged that Karnataka had released approximately 84,168 cusecs at Biligundlu from September 5 to 12, and by the end of Monday it may have exceeded a lakh. He submitted that the total water in Karnataka’s reservoir was less than water in the reservoir in Tamil Nadu.

Karnataka submitted that the outflow from Mettur reservoir to dependent systems was 1,250 cusecs a day for samba crops and so, the “agony” expressed by Tamil Nadu counsel and senior advocate Shekhar Naphade was sheer anxiety. It submitted that the Supervisory Committee was meeting on Monday and the Supreme Court order should be kept in abeyance till it took a decision.

“Otherwise the State of Karnataka would suffer immensely as there will be shortage of drinking water and water for irrigation,” Karnataka argued.

In its counter, Tamil Nadu contended that the law and order situation could not be a ground for modifying a Supreme Court order.

Karnataka had an inflow of about four tmc in its four major reservoirs from September 1 to 10 and the flow realised at Biligundlu out of the release from Karnataka’s reservoirs up to September 11 was about 4.8 TMC.

“Thus it is evident that Karnataka has released to Tamil Nadu only the inflows received by it and the depletion in storage is due to its own drawal and not on account of release to Tamil Nadu,” Mr. Naphade contended.

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