The Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) on September 29 upheld the decision of the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC), asking Karnataka to release 3,000 cubic feet per second (cusecs) to Tamil Nadu till October 15.
It also told Karnataka to make good the shortfall of 0.71 thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft) that arose during the 15-day period that ended on September 27. The CWRC took its decision at its meeting on September 26.
After the meeting that lasted nearly two hours, CWMA chairman Saumitra Kumar Haldar told The Hindu from New Delhi that barring Karnataka, representatives of other basin States joined the discussion through videoconference. As for Tamil Nadu, the officiating Principal Secretary for Water Resources, K. Manivasan, attended the meeting online, while the Cauvery Technical Cell’s chairperson, R. Subramanian, was personally present in New Delhi.
As in the past, there was an intense exchange of views between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. While the former wanted the continuous release of water and demanded 12,500 cusecs, the latter referred to its difficulties in continuing with the supply, apart from pointing out that it was only dependent upon the southwest monsoon, which played truant this year, but Tamil Nadu could fall back upon northeast monsoon which would set in during the third or fourth week of October.
According to the data of the Central Water Commission available up to September 26 this year, the realisation of the Cauvery water at Biligundulu this month was 11.8 tmc ft and since June 1, the total was 43.73 tmc ft. In a normal year, the State should have got nearly 75 tmc ft more as of now.
As on Friday morning, the storage of the Mettur dam remained at about 11 tmc ft, with an inflow of around 5,300 cusecs. Discharge was about 6,500 cusecs. Four reservoirs of Karnataka in the Cauvery basin had a combined gross storage of 59.65 tmc ft. As per the latest direction of the CWMA, Karnataka will have to release totally 5.38 tmc ft till October 15.
Nothing on fact finding committee
Asked whether either of the States raised the issue of sending a fact-finding committee to ascertain the level of distress in the Cauvery basin, Mr. Haldar replied in the negative. “It [the issue] never came up before us,” the chairman said, hinting that even otherwise, no such proposal was under the consideration of the CWMA.
A similar panel was constituted by the Union government on October 4, 2016, on the directions of the Supreme Court. Called the High Level Technical Team, the panel had nine members, drawn from the Central Water Commission and the basin States and the Union Territory of Puducherry. Among the basin States and the Union Territory, both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had one additional representative.
After undertaking field visits to these two States, the panel, on October 17 that year, submitted its report. In its conclusions, the committee did not quantify how much water should be released by Karnataka to Tamil Nadu. But it indicated that while Karnataka should appreciate the matter of protection of established irrigation of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, the lower basin State should take into account the aspirations of the upper riparian State for developing its network.