The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to constitute today itself a bench to hear the Cauvery River water-sharing dispute where Tamil Nadu has sought direction to Karnataka to release 24,000 cusecs of water daily for standing crops. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said it will constitute a bench to hear the case today itself after senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Tamil Nadu, sought an urgent hearing of the case.
Rohatgi sought an urgent hearing of the case saying the government of Tamil Nadu has filed an application in the Cauvery River water-sharing dispute case. “This is an urgent plea for the release of Cauvery water for August as per the Cauvery Water Management Authority order. The court has to constitute a bench,” he said while urging to list it at the earliest also for hearing.
To this, the bench said, “Today itself I will constitute a Bench.” The matter has been a controversial issue between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for decades and they have been locked in a battle over the sharing of water from the Cauvery River, which is a major source of irrigation and drinking water for millions of people in the region.
The Centre formed the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) on June 2, 1990, to adjudicate disputes between Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Puducherry with respect to the water-sharing capacities. The government of Tamil Nadu has approached the apex court seeking fresh directions on the release of water.
Tamil Nadu in its fresh application sought direction to the State of Karnataka to immediately release 24,000 cubic feet per second (cusecs) from its reservoirs and ensure the availability of the specified quantity of water at Biligundlu on the inter-State border for the remainder of the month for meeting the pressing demands of the standing crops. It also urged the top court to direct Karnataka to ensure the release of 36.76 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) stipulated for September 2023 as per the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT)’s final award of February 2007 that was modified by the Supreme Court in 2018.
Tamil Nadu said Karnataka should make good the shortfall of 28.849 TMC water during the current irrigation year for the period between June 1 to July 31. It further asked the apex court to direct the Cauvery Water Management Authority to ensure that the directions issued to Karnataka to release water to Tamil Nadu were “fully implemented and the stipulated monthly releases during the remaining period of the current water year are fully given effect to by the State of Karnataka”.
The application said that a direction was given to Karnataka on August 10 to release from its reservoirs 15,000 cusecs at Billigundulu on August 11 for 15 days. “Unfortunately, even this quantum of water was arbitrarily reduced to 10,000 cusecs by the CWMA in its 22nd meeting held on August 11 at the instance of Karnataka. Regretfully, even this amount of 10,000 cusecs to be ensured at Billigundulu by releasing such quantum of water from the KRS and Kabini reservoirs has not been complied with by Karnataka,” it added.
Karnataka failed to fully implement the directions for the release of the stipulated quantum of 10,000 cusecs (0.864 TMC per day) as directed by CWRC, it said. Karnataka is duty-bound to release the Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu as per the final order passed by the Tribunal as modified by this Court, the application stated