‘Release 2K cusecs water to TN from October 7 to 18’
Karnataka was on Tuesday directed to release 2,000 cusecs Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu from October 7 to 18 by the Supreme Court, which deferred its order asking the Centre to set up Cauvery Water Management Board till it finally decided on appeals relating to the age-old water dispute.
Instead, the apex court agreed to the suggestion that a Supervisory Committee, comprising officials and technical experts from the Centre, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry, be set up to inspect Cauvery basin for assessing ground realities.
The committee was asked by the bench, comprising Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit, to file its report by October 17. The matter will be taken up a day after when the court reopens after the Dussehra break. The order was passed after taking on record the written note of Karnataka government that it has released around 17.5 TMC of water from September 5 to 30 and the proposal was to release 3.1 TMC by October 6. However, Tamil Nadu government complained that there was a deficit 4.6 TMC of supply of water in the month of September and it required a total of 22 TMC of water till October.
The bench agreed with the suggestion of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the Supervisory Committee can have G S Jha, Chairman/Member of Central Water Commission (CWC) as chairman.
The panel, which would also comprise Chief Secretaries or his nominees of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, will have chief engineers of all stakeholders including Kerala and Puducherry. Rohatgi suggested the names of CWC member Syed Masood Hussain and its chief engineer R K Gupta as other members of the proposed panel.
The SC deferred the orders of September 20 and 30 for setting up of the CWMB, after the Attorney General said the civil appeals against Cauvery Tribunal’s recommendation on it was pending and listed for hearing before a three-judge bench on October 18. The bench agreed that nobody has argued that appeals were pending to be heard by a three-judge bench and said, at the moment, it cannot pass an order as urged by the Centre to “recall or review” the orders on CWMB, but can defer it.
The day’s hearing saw senior advocate F S Nariman making a comeback as Karnataka’s lead counsel after the state complied with the apex court’s September 30 direction to release water to Tamil Nadu and there were moments when he entered into heated exchange of words with opposite counsel Shekhar Naphade, representing Tamil Nadu.
Naphade said there was not a “change of heart” by Karnataka, rather it was a change in “strategy” to release water and “the Union of India was playing in their hands and there is much more to it than what meets the eye”.