A Special Bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, on February 16 pronounced the verdict on the appeals filed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala against the final award of the Cauvery Waters Tribunal in 2007 on the allocation of water to them.
The Bench noted that Karnataka is "entitled to marginal relief" and reduced the allocation to Tamil Nadu by 14.75 tmcft. It said that there is "no perversity" in the Tribunal's allocation of water to Tamil Nadu.
|State||Quantity of water allocated|
|Karnataka||284.75 tmcft, including 4.75 tmcft for Bengaluru|
|Tamil Nadu||404.25 tmcft|
Here are the latest updates:
Validity of Article 363
The verdict could be an eye-opener for all inter-State river disputes.
The Supreme Court doesn't buy the Centre's argument that it was Parliament's call to finalise the water sharing scheme under the Inter-State Water Disputes Act of 1956.
The Bench said it was wrong on the part of Karnataka to argue they had no bargaining power in the 1892 and 1924 agreements on the Cauvery water allocation between Mysore and the Madras Presidency. "Then why did they not denounce these agreements post Indepedence and the Constitution" it asked.
Karnataka had argued that according to Article 363, the judiciary has no power to intervene in treaties or agreements entered into before the Constitution came into existence.
Farmer rights activist P. Ayyakannu who staged a protest in New Delhi for over 100 days seeking farm loan waiver for Delta farmers has welcomed the verdict.
“Though it is slightly disappointing that the quantum of our share has been reduced, we are happy that the court has directed the formation of a Cauvery management board. The board, once constituted, will ensure the release of Tamil Nadu’s share of water as per the judicial orders and also that Karnataka does not increase its area of cultivation,” Mr. Ayyakannu, president of Desiya Thenindia Nadigal Inaippu Vivasayigal Sangam, said.
Farmers leaders in Mandya are said to be disappointed with the verdict to some extent. According to them, the Supreme Court should have considered five consequent droughts and farmers' suicides to arrive at the quantum of water. The 14.75 tmcft of additional water to Karnataka is not sufficient and at least 30-40 tmcft should have been given, considering the above said reasons, they felt.
'Constitution gives equal status to all States'
The Special Bench noted that the Constitution gave equal status to all States. It said the Inter-State rivers are national assets. "No one riparian State can claim full rights over it," it said.
The 1924 post Mettur dam agreement expired in 1974. Now the principle of water allocation is based on "equitable apportionment" and not primacy, it observed.
The 1892 and 1924 agreements were not "political arrangements" but based on public interest, it pointed out.
Reduction in Tamil Nadu's share
The verdict has reduced Tamil Nadu's allocation of the Cauvery water from Karnataka from 192 tmcft to 177.25 tamcft from the Biligundlu dam.
The State will have to now bank on 10 tmcft of ground water available with it.
In view of scarcity of water, there should be no deviation in allocation, the Bench ruled and also made it clear that the allocation should only be made for stated purposes.
The Court has allowed Bengaluru to use the Cauvery water for drinking purposes. The city gets 4.75 tmcft. The Tribunal erred in thinking that Bengaluru falls outside the Cauvery basin and it has 60% ground water, the verdict said.
Good news for farmers: Siddaramaiah
"This is a good news for farmers in the Cauvery basin and people of Karnataka,'' says Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
The judgment is valid for 15 years, said Mohan Kataraki, who represented Karnataka in the Supreme Court.
And the verdict is out. The Special Bench orders Karnataka to release 177.25 tmcft of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu from the Biligundlu dam.
Tamil Nadu will now get 404.25 tmcft, instead of 419 tmcft allotted by the Tribunal.
There is no change in the water share of Kerala and Puducherry — 30 and 7 tmcft respectively.
Security has been tightened in Bengaluru. Speaking to reporters, police commissioner T. Suneel Kumar said 15,000 police personnel would be deployed for duty.
In addition to this, personnel of THE Karnataka State Reserved Police and other forces would be deployed. “Special attention will be given to the sensitive areas where riots had taken place in the past,” he said.
During the final arguments in September last, the Tamil Nadu government, represented by senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, urged the Supreme Court to initiate a “fundamental change” in the water-sharing arrangement. “Several years have gone by... the river is perennial but the litigation should not be,” he had submitted.
The final arguments saw senior advocate Fali Nariman, for Karnataka, urging the court to realise that the Tribunal award fixing monthly water releases to Tamil Nadu without any regard to the availability of water in Karnataka was harsh. “It is like the tribunal ordering God to send rain to the State,” Mr. Nariman said at a July 18 hearing.
Before reserving the judgment, the Bench had pulled up the Centre for not implementing the final award of the Tribunal and questioned its reluctance to set up a Cauvery management board.
The Cauvery river water dispute, primarily between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, dates back to the 19th century. Here is the chronology of the riparian wrangle
No buses plying between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had announced that they were halting their bus services
All KSRTC buses from Mysuru, which were in Tamil Nadu on Thursday, have come back. No KSRTC bus from Mysuru is in Tamil Nadu now, said KSRTC officials in Mysuru.
KSRTC buses make a total of 74 trips to Tamil Nadu from Mysuru every day.
Security up at TN-Karnataka border
Both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have taken precautionary measures to ensure no law and order problem arises over the verdict.
The State-run Tamil Nadu Road Transport Corporation has suspended its services to Mysuru. The buses were stopped near the State border and passengers had to walk to Karnataka and take a local bus from there.
The usually busy Attibele toll plaza on the road connecting Bengaluru to Tamil Nadu wore a deserted look.
After 11-year wait, hope trickles in
Tamil Nadu’s 11-year-long wait for a solution to the Cauvery dispute with Karnataka could come to an end on Friday with the Supreme Court likely to pronounce its verdict on the 2007 final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT), writes T. Ramakrishnan