The Supreme Court on Friday directed Karnataka to release 177.25 thousand million cubic feet of Cauvery water per year to Tamil Nadu from its inter-state Biligundlu dam. So, Tamil Nadu will now get 404.25 tmcft of Cauvery water instead of the 419 tmcft allotted by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in 2007.
The court also increased the water allocation for Karnataka by 14.75 tmcft per year, and said that the extra water is to meet the drinking needs of Bengaluru. This is over the 270 tmcft that the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal had allotted the state in 2007.
The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar also upheld the tribunal’s order granting 30 tmcft of water to Kerala and seven tmcft of water to Puducherry, PTI reported.
The judges told the states that the order on Cauvery water allocation will apply for the next 15 years. The bench also observed that no state can claim absolute rights over the Cauvery river as water bodies are national assets.
The court also ordered the Centre to set up a Cauvery Water Management Board within six weeks to ensure that its ruling is implemented. “When we say so, we also categorically convey that the need based monthly release has to be respected,” the judges said. “It is hereby made clear that no extension shall be granted for framing of the scheme [the water management board] on any ground.”
While leaders in Karnataka were happy and welcomed the verdict, the two major political parties in Tamil Nadu – All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam – blamed each other for the Supreme Court’s verdict.
The Cauvery water sharing dispute has been going on for 22 years now.
Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had moved the Supreme Court against the 2007 Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal’s ruling. In 2007, the tribunal had allocated 419 thousand million cubic feet to Tamil Nadu, 270 tmcft to Karnataka, 30 tmcft to Kerala and seven tmcft to Puducherry of the 740 tmcft of water available in the Cauvery basin. The Centre had notified the tribunal’s award in 2013.
Earlier on Friday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami had asked the police to be on alert, keeping in mind the protests and violence in both states because of the dispute in 2017. Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy had said he was hopeful that the judgment would be in his state’s favour. “However, as we cannot take any chances we have put in place adequate security arrangements in Mysuru, Mandya and Bengaluru districts,” he said, according to the Hindustan Times.