NEW DELHI: Minutes after Karnataka informed the Supreme Court that it had started releasing water to Tamil Nadu and would fully comply with the SC’s order, the court asked the state to release 2,000 cusecs of water daily to its neighbour from October 7 till 18.
On September 30, the SC had ordered Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs of water daily to Tamil Nadu from October 1 till October 6.
Karnataka had initially defied this order, as it had done with three earlier orders last month.
Karnataka’s counsel Fali S Nariman told the court that the state assembly had passed a resolution to release water and, accordingly, the state had released 9,000 cusecs of water on the night of October 3. He said 12,000 cusecs of water would be released on October 4 and 5 and by 11 pm on October 6, entire 36,000 cusecs would be released as per the SC order.
The bench asked Karnataka how much water it was ready to release from October 7 till October 18.
Karnataka’s advocate general M R Naik informed the court that the state was willing to release 1,500 cusecs daily despite the severe water shortage. The bench took this into account and ordered the Siddaramiah government to release 2,000 cusecs a day.
Nariman questioned the rationale behind the SC first ordering release of 15,000 cusecs of water, scaling it down to 12,000 cusecs, then to 6,000 cusecs and now 2,000 cusecs. “What is the rationale behind these orders? How is the court arriving at these figures?” he asked.
The judges smiled and said “it is our arithmetic”. Nariman replied, “We do not understand these arithmetic orders.”
The court also accepted attorney general Mukul Rohatgi’s submission to defer setting up of Cauvery Management Board (CMB). The AG submitted that it was a lapse on his and his legal team’s part to agree to it on September 20 and September 30. “Setting up of CMB is a legislative process and final decision is with Parliament,” he said.
Tamil Nadu did not take it kindly and accused the Centre of favouring Karnataka. Tamil Nadu’s counsel Shekhar Naphade said, “The Union government is playing at their hand. Why has it backtracked from setting up CMB. There is much more than meets the eye.” Naphade also said the court was being soft towards Karnataka despite repeated disobedience of its orders.
“Why this soft treatment to politicians?” he asked and recalled that in 2002, then chief minister S M Krishna had violated court orders and got away with an apology after six years. The court said it was not soft towards anyone and reminded Naphade that it had used strong language against Karnataka to convey that it meant business. “It is not a question of being soft towards political personalities,” it said.
The bench asked a team of Central Water Commission comprising its chairman, member and chief engineer to be accompanied by representatives from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry to visit the Cauvery basin area to take stock of water stored in various reservoirs in the two states. It sought a ground report from the team by October 17 and posted the matter for hearing on October 18.
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