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Cauvery dispute: Supreme Court reserves order on validity of appeals against 2007 tribunal verdict

The apex court bench reportedly hinted that the judgment in the case could be pronounced in two weeks.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its order in the Cauvery water-sharing dispute case between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, ANI reported. The states had moved court against the 2007 award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal. The court has yet to decide whether the appeals could be allowed. The apex court bench of justices Dipak Misra, Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar hinted that the court might pronounce the verdict in two weeks, mint reported.

The Centre had informed the court on Tuesday that the tribunal's verdict was final and binding. The government said, “The Constitution has totally ousted the jurisdiction of the apex court for inter-state river water disputes.” Meanwhile, the apex court on the same day had directed Karnataka to continue to release 2,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu till further orders.

In 2007, the tribunal allocated 419 thousand million cubic feet to Tamil Nadu, 270 tmcft to Karnataka, 30 tmcft to Kerala and 7 tmcft to Puducherry of the 740 tmcft of water available in the Cauvery basin. The Centre had notified the tribunal's award in 2013.

The new bench, which was set up to hear all issues related to the water-sharing dispute all over again, had also urged both the states to ensure that peace and harmony is maintained. On October 4, the Supreme Court had told Karnataka to release 2,000 cusecs of water from the river to Tamil Nadu every day from October 7 to 18. A day later, the Centre had set up a high-level technical team on the court's instructions to look into the ground reality in the Cauvery river basin.

To decide on the quantum of Cauvery water Karnataka must release, the apex court took into consideration the report submitted by the team, which had found that both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu faced water shortage. The Centre-appointed team also said that 42 of the 48 taluks in the river basin in Karnataka were drought-affected.

The Cauvery water-sharing dispute snowballed into a big issue after the Supreme Court, on September 5, directed Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu. It later modified its verdict and reduced the quantity to 12,000 cusecs, but the order had led to widespread protests by farmers in Karnataka, who had argued that the state needed the water more than its neighbour. While Karnataka had earlier defied Supreme Court orders and decided against releasing water to Tamil Nadu, it released 6,000 cusecs of water to the neighbouring state late on October 3.

Protests by political leaders and farmers continued to rock Tamil Nadu with Tamil Maanila Congress leader GK Vasan and scores of farmers being detained on Tuesday for staging demonstrations. The administration has deployed a huge police force at railway stations after several political parties and farmers' groups started a two-day rail roko demonstration on Monday.

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