The Supreme Court has directed the Karnataka government to release 177.25 tmcft of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu from its inter-state dam. The judgement, pronounced Friday morning, clarified that Karnataka will now have an enhanced share of 14.75 tmcft water per year while Tamil Nadu will get 404.25 tmcft, which will be 14.75 tmcft less than what was allotted by the tribunal in 2007.
Earlier, in accordance with the 2007 award of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal (CWDT), Karnataka had a share of 270 tmcft of Cauvery water. This will now increase to 284.75 tmcft.
The long-awaited judgement was pronounced by a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar, which had on September 20 last year reserved the verdict on the appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala against the 2007 award of the tribunal.
Reading out the operative portion of the verdict, the chief justice said the 2007 tribunal award of 30 tmcft to Kerala and 7 tmcft water to Puducherry will remain unchanged.
The apex court also allowed Tamil Nadu to draw an additional 10 tmcft ‘groundwater’ from a total of 20 tmcft beneath the Cauvery basin.
The court also reasoned that increase in share of Karnataka by 14.75 tmcft is because of the 10 tmcft groundwater and 4.75 tmcft drinking water requirement for Bengaluru residents. Stating that drinking water has to be kept on the highest pedestal, it said its order on Cauvery water allocation will continue for the next 15 years.
During the course of the pendency of appeals of the neighbouring states against the arbitral award of 2007, the apex court had passed several orders directing Karnataka to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
On September 30, 2016, it had pulled up Karnataka for its repeated “defiance” in flouting its orders on the issue and said no one would know when the “wrath of the law” would fall on it.
Later, Karnataka had moved a review petition in the apex court against its three orders on the issue and direction to the Centre to create the Cauvery Water Management Board (CWMB). It said “grave miscarriage of justice” was caused to it following the three apex court orders of September 20, 27 and 30, 2016, by which it was directed to release water.
Tamil Nadu had earlier as well alleged that Kerala was drawing water in excess of what was allocated to it by the tribunal.
The apex court had on December 9, 2016 upheld the maintainability of appeals filed by the riparian states, saying it has the “jurisdiction to decide the parameters, scope, authority and jurisdiction of the tribunal”.
The court had rejected the Centre’s objection that the CWDT award amounted to a final decree and it had no jurisdiction to hear the appeals against the award.
(With inputs from PTI)