Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami on Saturday wrote to Karnataka Chief Minister, requesting him to release 15 thousand million cubic feet, or TMC, of Cauvery river water to his state to make up for the shortfall in the supply in the 2017-18 irrigation year.

Water in the Mettur reservoir in Tamil Nadu was “grossly inadequate” to meet the irrigation needs of farmers to save their standing crops and to meet people’s drinking water needs, Palaniswami said. Karnataka could release 7 TMC of water from the Cauvery basin immediately and release the remaining 8 TMC within a fortnight, he added.

The Tamil Nadu chief minister pointed out that this was a feasible request as Karnataka’s crop season was over, but Tamil Nadu’s had to be extended because farmers had to replant the crops that were destroyed by intense North East monsoon.

The letter comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to pronounce its verdict on the Cauvery dispute by early February.

In September 2017, a three-judge bench had reserved its verdict on the case after hearing appeals filed by Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu against the 2007 order of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal. The tribunal had ruled that the river water be shared between several states in the region – 419 TMC would be allocated for Tamil Nadu, 270 TMC for Karnataka, 30 TMC for Kerala, and 7 TMC for Puducherry.

Decades-old dispute

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have been in a dispute over sharing the Cauvery river water for 22 years. In 2016, there were widespread protests and subsequent violence in both states, when the water-sharing row snowballed into a massive problem after the Supreme Court directed Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu.

The top court 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.