New Delhi, Oct 4 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Karnataka to release 2,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu daily from October 7 to 18 as it asked the Cauvery Supervisory Committee to visit the river basin area of two states for an assessment of the ground situation and report back to it by October 17.
The bench of Justice Dipak Misra sand Justice Uday Umesh Lalit directed the release of 2,000 cusecs of water every day for 12 days, after Karnataka told the court that in compliance with the court’s September 30 order, it has started releasing water to Tamil Nadu and by October 6, it would release 3.1 TMC of water.
The court had by its September 30 order had asked Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs of water every day from October 1 to 6.
The court said that the Supervisory Committee would comprise the Central Water Commission’s Chairman, member, and Chief Engineer, the Chief Secretaries of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu or their nominees, the states’ Chief Engineers or their nominees and a representative each from Kerala and Puducherry.
Noting that Karnataka has already made a statement that it has started to release water in pursuance to the September 30 order, the court earlier on Tuesday asked it to indicate the quantity of water it could release daily basis from October 7 to 18 – the date when the court would be hearing various applications and appeals by both states.
Giving half an hour time to Karnataka’s counsel V.N. Raghupathy, the court adjourned the hearing for this period. On the resumption, state’s Advocate General M.R. Naik told the court that they can release 1,500 cusecs every day. He said that it was on the basis of instructions he has received from the highest level in the government.
While agreeing to send their representative to the supervisory committee, Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, told the bench that the better course would be that based on shortfall in rains, the share of all the parties be reduced proportionately.
On couple of occasions, the hearing saw temperatures soaring as Karnataka resisted the bench’s suggestion for release water to Tamil Nadu for 12 days from October 7 as senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for the state, urged the bench not to pass an order which the State can’t implement.
He told the court that even on earlier occasions, he had urged the court not to pass orders which Karnataka would find difficult to comply with but the court went ahead which subsequently created all the problems, and he had to face flak.
As he asked on what basis the court had earlier directed Karnataka to release firstly 15,000 cusecs, then 12,000 cusecs and then 6,000 cusecs of water, the bench said” “We went by arithmetic”.
“But arithmetic does not work with ground reality,” Nariman told the court, noting it was “just impossible” for Karnataka to do anything. “It is not just the government of Karnataka. It is about millions of people.”
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi reiterated that top court had no jurisdiction to direct the constitution of the board, citing material to back his contention.
As the bench said it can still be set up, he said that it was a recommendation by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal and the court can direct the CMB’s setting-up only if it converts that recommendation into a decision.
He also asked if the board could be constituted at an interim stage when the hearing on the challenge to the tribunal award was still pending.
At this, Naphade told the court that Karnataka wanted to see that the board was not set-up and the central government was “playing into their hands.”
He wondered why court was adopting such a soft treatment of politicians, referring to an apology by former Karnataka Chief Minister S..M. Krishna in a contempt case.
In response, Justice Mishra said: “It is not a question of X or Y personality. There may be some genuine difficulties, which we may not be able to visualise sitting here.”