Today's Paper

Water-sharing: State to present its case today

Karnataka is expected to convey to the Supreme Court that it is keen on adhering to the water release formula prescribed by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) and that the vagaries of monsoon has prevented it from sticking to the formula so far this year.

Tamil Nadu had approached the apex court seeking a direction for the release of nearly 25 tmcft of water, claiming it as the shortfall based on the distress water-sharing formula. The petition of the lower riparian State is coming up for hearing on Monday.

Sources in the State government told The Hindu that a team of technical experts from the Department of Water Resources here was in New Delhi to assist legal experts in finalising the State’s arguments before the Supreme Court. The State is expected to convey to the court, if need be, that the storage in the four Cauvery basin reservoirs (Hemavati, Harangi, Kabini and the Krishnarajasagar), which had touched a minimum draw down level about two months ago owing to the late arrival of the monsoon, had now vastly improved, particularly in the last 10 days, and that the water released to the neighbouring State had also since been stepped up.

The release would be further increased after the Krishnarajasagar and the Hemavati fill up to the brim, which is expected to happen in about a fortnight. The irrigation authorities were now releasing around 15,000 cusecs of water from the Kabini dam over the last few days and along with the flow in the Cauvery downstream of Krishnarajasagar reservoir, the volume of the release added up to over 1.5 tmcft a day.

Tamil Nadu said that as this water year was a distress year, the available water had to be shared between the two States on pro rata basis. It had also made a case that Karnataka resorted to summer irrigation in the first five months of the year, utilised water stored in the reservoirs, and that the move went against the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.

The argument was that if Karnataka had conserved the waters in its Cauvery basin reservoirs, the distress could have been minimal.

A plea was also made to convene a meeting of the Cauvery River Authority to approve the distress water-sharing formula.

Sources here said the State had not been able to fully meet the schedule pertaining to water releases over the past three months. As per the CWDT order, the State should release 10 tmcft in June, 34 tmcft in July and 50 tmcft in August, 40 tmcft in September, etc.

While making up for the reduced release by the upper riparian State was one thing, the lower riparian State was bound to demand that the monthly release be in tune with the schedule made out by the CWDT.