The Karnataka government on Monday told the Supreme Court that it was not in a position to release more water from the Cauvery river to Tamil Nadu. The Siddaramaiah-led government filed an affidavit saying that it had already provided 116.697 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water to the neighbouring state till April even though it was a “distress year in the Cauvery basin” for the third straight year, The Hindu reported.
The affidavit was in response to Tamil Nadu’s claim before the court that the state could easily spare 4 tmcft for May. Karnataka, however, responded saying that Tamil Nadu had received an extra 16.66 tmcft of water, and claimed that water had been released as per the Central Water Commission’s measurements. The court will hear the case on Tuesday.
On May 3, the court had directed Karnataka to release at least 2 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu. But Karnataka Water Resources Minister MB Patil said the state could not provide water as the storage level in all four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin was just nine tmcft, which was not enough even to fulfil the needs of the state. “We will direct the legal team to communicate about the poor water storage situation in our dams to the Supreme Court,” he had said.
The Centre told the Supreme Court that day that it had failed to meet the May 3 deadline for framing the draft of the Cauvery water-sharing scheme because Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the other ministers were busy with preparations for the May 12 Assembly elections in Karnataka. This earned the government a rebuke from the court.
The Cauvery water sharing dispute has been going on for 22 years now. In February, the Supreme Court directed Karnataka to release 177.25 tmcft of Cauvery water per year to Tamil Nadu and asked the Centre to set up a Cauvery Water Management Board by March 29. It later extended the deadline to May 3.
Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had moved the Supreme Court against the 2007 Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal’s ruling. The tribunal allocated to Tamil Nadu 419 tmcft of the 740 tmcft of water available in the Cauvery basin. Karnataka received 270 tmcft of water, while 30 tmcft went to Kerala and seven tmcft to Puducherry. The Centre notified the tribunal’s award in 2013.