Karnataka to file appeal in Supreme Court over release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu had approached SC with a plea to direct Karnataka to release 24,000 cusecs of Cauvery water daily for standing crops.

BySouth First Desk

Published Aug 20, 2023 | 4:30 PM Updated Aug 20, 2023 | 4:30 PM

Cauvery River

The Karnataka Cabinet directed the Advocate General to file the state’s appeal before the Supreme Court on 21 August regarding the release of Cauvery River water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

Earlier this week, Tamil Nadu had approached the Supreme Court with a plea to direct Karnataka to release 24,000 cusecs of Cauvery water daily for standing crops.

Karnataka has been maintaining that it will be able 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.

“The Advocate General was invited to today’s cabinet. He has been directed to file the state’s appeal before the Supreme Court on Monday,” Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister HK Patil said.

Also read: Karnataka government under fire for supplying Cauvery water to TN

‘Will file appeal with all information’

Briefing reporters about the cabinet decisions, Patil said, “He (AG) has been asked to file an appeal with all the detailed information based on the existing situation.”

Not willing to share any details, the minister in response to a question said, “As we are filing an appeal before the Supreme Court, I don’t want to indulge in any discussion, as the court should not say you have told the press and you are coming before us.”

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar, who is also in charge of the Water Resources department, following Tamil Nadu approaching the SC, had on Tuesday said Karnataka would release 10 tmcft of water from the Cauvery basin to the neighbouring state, while maintaining that the state doesn’t have sufficient water in dams to meet its requirements like drinking water and agriculture due to deficit monsoon.

On 18 August, he said the Karnataka government has written to the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) requesting it to review the order directing the state to release 10,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu on a daily basis for the next 15 days.

On 4 August, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin penned a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his immediate intervention and instruction to the Karnataka government to release their due share of water from the Cauvery River.

In the letter, Stalin said the Karnataka government had released only 11.6 tmcft of water instead of 40.4 tmcft between 1 June and 31 July this year.

Also read: Relief for Cauvery delta farmers in TN hit by unseasonal rains

The BJP protest

Responding to a question on the Opposition BJP calling for ‘Mandya bandh’ next week in protest against the release of water to Tamil Nadu, Patil said: “The Chief Minister has already expressed his intention to call an all-party meeting to discuss Cauvery issues. As the all-party meeting will be happening, there is no need for any protest or agitation.”

“I request everyone to maintain peace as there will be an opportunity to discuss (the issue) at the meeting,” he said.

The date of the all-party meeting will be announced soon, he added.

Taking an exception to the release of water to Tamil Nadu from the KRS dam, the BJP’s Basavaraj Bommai urged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to immediately stop the release of water to the neighbouring state in the interest of Karnataka and its farmers.

After the Tamil Nadu government filed a petition before the Supreme Court asking it to direct the Karnataka government to release water from the KRS and Kabini dams, Bommai wrote a letter to Siddaramaiah on 14 August, urging him not to release water as the state was facing a severe water shortage.

In the letter, Bommai pointed out: “On 1 June, a total of 24.352 tmcft of water was present in four reservoirs (of the Cauvery basin) in Karnataka. Similarly, there was 69.77 tmcft in the Mettur reservoir in the Salem district, and 16.653 tmcft in the Bhavani Sagar reservoir in the Erode district of Tamil Nadu.”

He also said: “Additionally, it’s been reported through media sources from the Biligundlu measurement centre that, as of 8 June, 14.054 tmcft of water flowed from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu. In total, 83.831 tmcft of water reached the Mettur Dam in Tamil Nadu this year.”

Bommai continued: “Around 32 tmcft of water is required for the cultivation of 1 lakh acres of Kuruvai crops in Tamil Nadu. However, on 7 August, Tamil Nadu used 60.97 tmcft of water for Kuruvai cultivation, which exceeds the allocation mandated by the Cauvery Water Tribunal’s order.”

Also read: Karnataka government withdraws order stopping grants to temples

Farmers’ protest

Condemning the state government’s decision to release water to Tamil Nadu, farmers launched a protest in Srirangapatna in the Mandya district on 16 August.

The agrarians demanded that the Karnataka government immediately stop the release of water, and cautioned of intensifying their agitation if that did not happen.

Since the onset of the southwest monsoon in Karnataka, South Karnataka — where the Cauvery river flows — recorded a 19-percent rain deficit. It received 151 mm of rain against the traditional rain of 186 mm since 1 June, according to the KSNDMC.

Karnataka State Sugarcane Growers’ Association President Kurbur Shantkumar told South First: “It is shameful that in a bid to develop a good relationship with the Tamil Nadu government, the Siddaramaiah government is sidelining the interests of farmers of the state by releasing water to the neighbouring state.”

He added: “I admit that there is an apex court order to release a certain amount of water to Tamil Nadu, but it does not apply when the state itself is in distress. The farmers in the Cauvery basin are in severe distress, but the state government is least bothered.”

(With PTI inputs)