Cauvery row: SC refuses to interfere with order asking Karnataka to release 5,000 cusecs water a day to TN

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to interfere with the Cauvery Water Management Authority’s (CWMA) direction to Karnataka to release 5,000 cusecs of water per day for 15 days to neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

Hearing a plea by Tamil Nadu, which sought more water from Karnataka, a bench of Justices B R Gavai, P S Narasimha and P K Mishra noted that the CWMA and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) were made up of experts and it did not want to interfere with their decision.

The Supreme Court also noted that the CWRC had taken into consideration the decreased inflow due to rain shortfall as well as other factors and that the two bodies were meeting and monitoring the water situation every 15 days.

At the 23rd CWMA meeting held on August 29, 2023, Karnataka was asked to ensure the release of water to Tamil Nadu at the rate of 5,000 cusecs for the next 15 days. Tamil Nadu, however, urged the court to direct Karnataka to release 24,000 cusecs of water daily.

Appearing for Tamil Nadu, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said the CWMA had mechanically approved the CWRC decision which was that Karnataka should release 7,200 cusecs of water daily. This was rounded off to 5,000, he added.

“It is a distress year for everyone. I am a lower agrarian state. The calculation is based on that. In a regular year I would have been eligible for three times more,” Rohatgi contended.

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Opposing Tamil Nadu’s demand for more water, senior advocate Shyam Divan, who appeared for Karnataka, said that even the direction to release 5,000 cusecs daily was against the state’s interest.

The bench said it did not want to enter into rival claims. “We are not inclined to interfere. Every 15 days, they [CWMA and CMRA] are monitoring and reviewing it. It is a body consisting of various experts and they have given their reasons,” said Justice Gavai.

Earlier, in an affidavit filed in court in response to Tamil Nadu’s demand for more water, the Karnataka government said that Tamil Nadu has only itself to blame for its current water woes. The state added that it may not be feasible for it to release any more water after September 12 as it is “facing severe drought situation both in Cauvery and Krishna basins”.