Cauvery water sharing dispute: SC declines to stay CWMA order to release water to TN
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Cauvery water sharing dispute: SC declines to stay CWMA order to release water to TN

September 21, 2023

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court this morning refused to interfere with the orders of the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) directing the Karnataka government to release 5,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu as per CWMA and CWRC orders.

A Bench of Justices B.R. Gavai, P.S. Narasimha and Prashant Kumar Mishra took up the matter at 10.30 am. While Karnataka filed the petition yesterday expressing its inability to release water due to low storage levels in its reservoirs and lack of rains this year, Tamil Nadu filed a petition seeking 7,200 cusecs of water challenging the decision of the CWMA that allocated 5,000 cusecs. Tamil Nadu’s reason was that it is facing a drought-like situation due to deficit rainfall and needed 7,200 cusecs of water.

The Bench said expert bodies like the CWMA and the CWRC have considered all relevant aspects like drought and deficit rainfall and passed the order and, therefore, it is not inclined to interfere with the order directing Karnataka to release 5,000 cusecs of water.

The Court emphasised that the CMRC had taken into account factors such as this year’s water shortfall and the increasing distress in the Cauvery basin and the situation is being actively monitored by the relevant authorities every 15 days.

How the two States argued

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Tamil Nadu, argued that while the CWMA and CWRC acknowledged the State’s eligibility for a release of 7,200 cusecs, it had been reduced to 5000 cusecs. He noted that this year was particularly distressing for everyone and that the calculation was based on this factor. Rohatgi explained, “In a regular year, I would have been eligible for three times more.”

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Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, representing Karnataka, expressed that while the CWMA’s order went against Karnataka’s interests, the State was still complying with it. He informed the Court that Karnataka had filed a separate application challenging the order, highlighting that Karnataka did not benefit from the Northeast Monsoon. Divan pointed out the rival claims, with Tamil Nadu requesting 7,200 cusecs and Karnataka offering only 2,000 cusecs.

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