The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu every day till September 27, overriding the Cauvery Supervisory Committee's order of 3,000 cusecs.
The bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, giving the direction to Karnataka, also directed the central government to constitute a Cauvery Management Board in four weeks' time and report to the court with notification of it being set up.
The order for releasing 6,000 cusecs is double the 3,000 cusecs ordered by the Cauvery Supervisory Committee (CSC), but half of the 12,000 cusecs the court had ordered on September 12 for Karnataka to release till September 20.
The matter will come up for further hearing on September 27.
Before the court could pass the order, senior counsel Fali Nariman made an impassioned plea not to ask Karnataka to release water to Tamil Nadu as it needed water for drinking purposes. He said Tamil Nadu could not ask for irrigation purposes the water Karnataka needed for drinking in Bengaluru and other places.
"Now we have to supply (to Tamil Nadu) from our drinking water. I can't give any water. You issue an order. It will have its consequences," Nariman told the court, pointing to the agitation that had engulfed both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu recently.
"I need water for my Samba crop from the South-West monsoon as I get my water from North-East monsoon in October only. I need water before October 15," senior counsel Shekhar Nahade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, told the bench.
Making light of Karnataka's argument that Tamil Nadu should take whatever has been given to it and the rest would be provided after the end of the monsoon based on calculation of deficit rainfall, Naphade said, "It is like telling a camel that you consume (water) now, and the rest (would get it) at the end."
Taking exception to Karnataka's argument on the consequences of the court's order, senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi said: "I don't know on what basis they are saying so (on being deprived of drinking water). It is some kind of terror. You are carrying on street war in the court."
Not missing the obvious threat behind the word "consequences", the court recalled in its order about obligation of people to obey its order and reminded the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments of their constitutional obligation to see that law and order prevails.
Noting that it has not been disputed by all the concerned that Cauvery Management Board (CMB) has to constituted, Justice Misra said: "It is the duty of the Central government to constitute the CMB under the award by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal. You are bound to do it. You have not constituted it so far. You did not constitute it."
As Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand defended inaction on the part of the government, saying that the Cauvery award was under challenge before the apex court, the bench said: "We did not stay it (the award). You constitute the CMB. If they (Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) challenge it, (then) we will see."
In an order passed after over two hour long hearing, the court permitted both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu -- who had said that they were aggrieved by the Supervisory Committee (CSC) order of September 19 -- to file their objections before the Committee within three days time.
Karnataka said that the CSC while directing it to release 3,000 cusecs of water every day to Tamil Nadu hasn't given any reasons, and from the tenor of the order it appears as if it is the view expressed by the Chairman. The court noted that Tamil Nadu was aggrieved on the quantum of water that CSC has asked Karnataka to release to Tamil Nadu.
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