Buses were stopped, tyres burnt and activists rolled on the highway near Mandya in southern Karnataka – the volatile heartland of the Cauvery basin – on Monday a day after the Supreme Court asked Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of the river water daily for the next 10 days to Tamil Nadu. Schools and colleges in the district have been closed for the day.
The battle over Cauvery waters between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka is likely to get further intensified with the Supreme Court order.
In its order, the apex court also directed Tamil Nadu to approach the Supervisory Committee, set up to implement award of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT), within three days for the release of Cauvery water as per the final order of the Tribunal.
“The Supervisory Committee shall pass appropriate direction in this regard within four days from the date of filing of the reference, keeping in view the language employed in the final order of the Tribunal. Be it clarified, the Supervisory Committee is bound by the language used in the order passed by the Tribunal…
“Coming to the immediate arrangement, keeping in view the gesture shown by the State of Karnataka and the plight that has been projected with agony by Naphade (senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu), we think it appropriate to direct that 15,000 cusecs of water per day be released at Biligundulu by the State of Karnataka for 10 days,” a bench comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice U.U. Lalit said.
It also directed Tamil Nadu to release water to the Union Territory of Puducherry proportionately as per its interim arrangement, while posting the matter for further hearing on September 16.
The order came after senior advocate Fali S Nariman, appearing for Karnataka, said as a “goodwill gesture”, the state government was ready to ensure flow of 10,000 cusecs (about 0.86 TMC) per day from September 7 to 12.
However, Tamil Nadu sought the release of 20,000 cusecs of water per day, instead of 10,000 cusecs of water, in the interest of the farmers of the state.
During the hearing, Naphade contended that Karnataka has not been complying with the Tribunal’s directions in the final order and there has been flagrant violation of the same.
He said that if the water is not released by Karnataka, the ‘samba’ crops will be damaged, which will lead to disastrous consequences for the farmers of Tamil Nadu.
Meanwhile, farmers of Mandya district in Karnataka observed a a total bandh against the Supreme Court order. As a result, the busy Bengaluru-Mysore highway was blocked, according to media reports. The police made elaborate security arrangements across Cauvery basin districts, including Bengaluru. All dams in the Cauvery basin have just 50 tmc feet of water due to failure of monsoon. Including Bengaluru, the region needs 40 tmc feet of water for drinking purpose because of which the state is opposing releasing water to Tamil Nadu.
Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah, whose government has been expressing its inability to release water to Tamil Nadu citing poor storage, would hold a meeting with floor leaders of all parties in the state legislature, MPs and district-in charge ministers on Tuesday to take stock of the situation.