The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to interfere with the directions passed by the Cauvery Water Management Authority directing Karnataka to release 5,000 cusecs of water daily to Tamil Nadu for 15 days commencing from September 13.
A Bench comprising Justices BR Gavai, PS Narasimha and Prashant Kumar Mishra noted that both, the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) and Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) consist of experts from the field of water resource management and agriculture and had considered all relevant factors, including over 48 per cent less rainfall to arrive at the conclusion.
The Bench said that the factors which were taken into consideration by the CWMA and CWRC cannot be said to be ‘irrelveant’ or ‘extraneous’.
Further, the top court ordered that “the authorities will be regularly meeting at an interval of 15 days and assess the situation for the relevant period and direct the release of water.”
Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for Tamil Nadu, contended that CWMA “mechanically” reduced the quantity to 5,000 cusecs per day against an amount of 7,200 cusecs per day recommended by the CWRC taking the situation into consideration.
On the other hand, senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for Karnataka, argued that the CWMA should have not ordered for release of more than 3,000 cusecs per day from the dams of Karnataka.
Divan said that Karnataka doesn't get the benefit of the North East Monsoons at all and the state is facing shortage of drinking water as well.
He said, “This drinking water aspect is extremely crucial. As far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, it is essentially for irrigation but for Karnataka, it is drinking water as well as irrigation.”
Karnataka had earlier told the Supreme Court that there “exists a severe drought situation both in Cauvery and Krishna basins” and it would not be feasible to release any more water from the reservoirs in Karnataka after September 12.
“We have only 53 tmc of water availability. For drinking water purposes 30 tmc is required, to save standing crops 70 tmc and for industries 3 tmc water is needed. There is no water with us to release," Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah underlined on Sunday while speaking to the media.