The Karnataka government on Friday once again refused to release water from the Cauvery river to Tamil Nadu, defying the Supreme Court’s latest order. State Water Resources Minister MB Patil said Karnataka was reeling under an acute scarcity of water. “There is no water for drinking purposes. We would have released water had we had any. Therefore, there is no question of releasing Cauvery water,” he told PTI.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had directed Karnataka to continue to release 2,000 cusecs of Cauvery water a day to Tamil Nadu. Karnataka, however, had informed the apex court that it was not in a position to follow the order. Senior lawyer Fali Nariman, who is representing the state in the case, told the bench that the state did not have enough water to meet the drinking needs of its own people. “Let the order remain in force, but we will not be able to implement it,” Nariman had said.

Patil reminded the state Assembly on Friday that the government’s legal team was working on the case. “There will not be any meeting [with the legal team] per se as of now,” he said.

The bench had also ordered a status quo in the situation till it arrived at a verdict on the petitions filed against the Cauvery River Water Tribunal order in the dispute. The court will begin the final hearing in the case on July 11.

Last year, the Cauvery water dispute led to protests and subsequent violence in both states. The water-sharing row had snowballed into a massive problem after the Supreme Court, on September 5, directed Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu. It had later modified its verdict and reduced the quantity to 12,000 cusecs, but the order led to widespread protests by farmers in Karnataka, who argued that the state needed the water more than its neighbour.

While Karnataka had earlier defied the Supreme Court’s orders and decided against releasing water to Tamil Nadu, it released 6,000 cusecs of water to the neighbouring state late on October 3.