SC refuses to interfere with Cauvery water release order, protests erupt in K’takatext_fields
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to interfere with orders of the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC), directing Karnataka to release 5,000 cusecs of water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu for the next 15 days.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for Tamil Nadu, contended that CWMA “mechanically” reduced the quantity to 5,000 cusecs per day against an amount of 7,200 cusecs per day recommended by the CWRC taking the situation into consideration. On the other hand, senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for Karnataka, argued that the CWMA should have not ordered for release of more than 3,000 cusecs per day from the dams of Karnataka.
A bench of Justices BR Gavai, PS Narasimha, and Prashant Kumar Mishra said it is not inclined to entertain the plea of Tamil Nadu in which it has challenged the decision of the CWMA upholding the order of the Committee on grounds that it is facing a drought-like situation due to deficit in rainfall.
The bench said expert bodies like the CWMA and CWRC have considered all relevant aspects and passed the order and, therefore, it is not inclined to interfere with the order.
Minutes after the apex court’s decision came out, protests erupted in various parts of the Cauvery River basin districts of Karnataka, demanding the state not to release water.
Farmers organisations and pro-Kannada organisations staged protests in Mysuru, Mandya, Bengaluru, and other parts of the state expressing their anger. They raised slogans against the government and demanded the court reconsider its decision.
"Where is water to release? And we demand justice," said Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene (farmers organisation) while protesting at Basaveshwara Circle in Mysuru.
Pointing out that Cauvery and Kabini basin taluks have already been declared as drought hit, a farmer leader alleged, CWMA orders are in favour of Tamil Nadu as it is without taking into account the water level at reservoirs, standing crops and drinking water needs of Karnataka.
In a protest at Gandhinagar, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike chief T A Narayana Gowda, terming it a "black day" for Karnataka, said, "The Supreme Court has shut its door on us, by upholding the orders of the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) order."
"We have to defy the orders of the Supreme Court and the CWMA, when the orders have come without understanding the ground situation. We (Karnataka) have said that we are not in a position to release water as there is no water in our four dams even for drinking and have asked them to send a team to assess the situation, despite that CWMA sitting in Delhi has issued an order, which has been upheld by SC, it cannot be tolerated," he said.
Gowda and scores of Vedike activists were later detained and taken away in police vehicles.
Urging Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to take a strong decision in the interests of the state and not to release water, he said, "All the activists and people are ready to go with him to jail for defying orders. Siddaramaiah has to do what (S) Bangarappa (former CM) did in the past by bringing in an ordinance to defy the orders."
Meanwhile, BJP leader and former Minister R Ashoka accused CM Siddaramaiah and Deputy CM D K Shivakumar, who is Water Resources Minister, of betraying the people of Karnataka to protect the political interests of the Congress party.
"They (Congress) want (M K) Stalin's (TN CM) cooperation for Parliamentary elections, so they released water betraying the people of Karnataka. Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar neither spoke to the Tamil Nadu government to resolve the issue or made any statement against them," he said, adding that the state government was "negligent" on the Cauvery issue and only took action after Tamil Nadu did.
Holding the Congress government in the state responsible for Karnataka's failure on the Cauvery issue, he said the BJP would protest against it and urge the administration to protect the state's interest.
The CWMA on Monday asked Karnataka to continue releasing 5,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu for another 15 days after the CWRC last week made such a recommendation.
Karnataka has been maintaining that it is not in a position to release water to Tamil Nadu taking into account its needs like drinking water and standing crops in the Cauvery basin areas, citing scarcity due to deficit monsoon rains.
With inputs from agencies