The Supreme Court of India on February 16, 2018 reduced Tamil Nadu’s share of Cauvery water by 14.75 tmcft water per year, diverting the same to Karnataka.
The court directed the Karnataka government to release 177.25 tmcft of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu from its inter-state Biligundlu dam, which is down from the state’s earlier allocation of 192 TMC water.
Karnataka will now have an enhanced share of 14.75 tmcft water per year.
Earlier, in accordance with the Cauvery Water Tribunal’s order in 2007, Karnataka had a share of 270 tmcft of Cauvery water. Now it will go up to 284.75 tmcft.
Judgement: Key Highlights
• The judgement was delivered by a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar.
• During the ruling, the CJI stated that the Cauvery tribunal’s 2007 award of 30 tmcft water to Kerala and 7 tmcft water to Puducherry will remain unchanged.
• The apex court also allowed Tami Nadu to draw an additional 10 tmcft 'groundwater' from a total of 20 tmcft beneath the Cauvery basin.
• The court stated that the decision to increase the water share of Karnataka was taken due to the 10 tmcft groundwater and 4.75 tmcft drinking water requirement for Bengaluru residents.
• The apex court stated that drinking water requirement has to be kept on the highest pedestal.
• The court’s order on the Cauvery water allocation will continue to hold for the next 15 years.
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The bench had heard the appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala against the 2007 ruling of the tribunal on September 20, 2017 and had reserved its verdict.
In its current decision, the apex court has upheld the 2007 decision of Cauvery Water Tribunal, while making some amendments.
The Cauvery Water Tribunal, in its ruling in 2007, had allocated 192 TMC water to Tamil Nadu, 270 TMC water to Karnataka, 30 tmcft to Kerala and 7 tmcft to Puducherry per year.
Cauvery Water Dispute
• The water sharing of Cauvery River has been a major source of conflict between the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
• The origin of this conflict can be traced back to two agreements in 1892 and 1924, which had taken place between the then Madras Presidency and the Kingdom of Mysore.
• The 802 km long Cauvery River has 44,000 km2 basin area in Tamil Nadu and 32,000 km2 basin area in Karnataka.
• Based on inflow Karnataka has been demanding its due share of water from the river. It stated that the pre-independence agreements were invalid and majorly favour the Madras Presidency, and demanded a renegotiated settlement based on equitable sharing of the waters.
• Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, stated that it has already developed almost 3,000,000 acres (12,000 km2) of land and as a result has come to depend very heavily on the existing pattern of usage and any change in the pattern will adversely affect the livelihood of millions of farmers in the state.
• The Government of India constituted a tribunal in 1990 to look into the matter.
• After hearing arguments of all the parties involved for the next 16 years, the tribunal delivered its final verdict on February 5, 2007.