The Supreme Court has finally settled the 200-year-old dispute of the Cauvery water sharing between two states, Kerala and Tamilnadu. Karnataka will now release 177.25 TMC – thousand million cubic feet – to Tamil Nadu instead of 192 TMC.
“The allocation of Karnataka which used to be 270 TMC has been increased to 284.75 TMC. About 10 TMC of water which had been found in the reaches of Tamil Nadu has been reckoned and therefore the share of Tamil Nadu has been reduced,” top court lawyer, Brijesh Kalappa told reporters.
The Supreme Court has further made it clear that the increase in the share of Cauvery water for Karnataka by 14.75 TMC was done in view of the increased demand for drinking water by Bengaluru and also for the state’s industrial activities.
Capital Bengaluru has emerged as the big gainer with 4.75 TMC allocated to it.
Since Karnataka ended up with the bigger piece of the cake in the verdict, the state counsel Mohan V Katarki told reporters, “We are very happy with the verdict. This is a balanced verdict which protects the interest of both the states. This is a good judgment which will go long way in ensuring peace in both the states.”
At the same time, with the verdict plugging the flow of Cauvery into Tamil Nadu, the southern state has been left with a lesser share in its bucket.
Top court lawyer A Navaneethakrishnan, who represented the state of Tamil Nadu, told reporters, “We believe in the verdict of the court and respect it. Surely, this is not enough. We have raised the shortfall of water with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari who has two plans to address the issue, one of which is linking river Godavari with Kallanai.”
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra pronounced the verdict on the appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala against the 2007 order of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal (CWDT) on the sharing of Cauvery, the Ganga of southern India.
The dispute dates back to the Madras-Mysore agreements of 1924. It was in 1990 that the Centre created a tribunal to examine the conflict.
The apex court, during the period of trials, had passed several orders directing the Karnataka government to provide a certain amount of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
The situation became tense between the states when the top court in 2016, directed Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water daily for a period of 10 days to Tamil Nadu.
Succumbing to political pressure and the wave of public protests, the Karnataka government had then filed a plea to modify the order.
A week after its previous order, the Supreme Court made modifications and asked Karnataka to release 12,000 cusecs Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu till September 20, which was promptly refused by the state citing its own requirements and low water availability due to scanty rainfall.
On October 18, 2016, the Supreme Court asked Karnataka to release 2000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu till further orders.
On January 9, 2017, the Tamil Nadu Government sought a compensation of Rs 2,480 crore from Karnataka for not releasing water to the state despite getting the Supreme Court directive to do so.