New Delhi: "Live and let live", the Supreme Court on Friday advised Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, as they locked horns and traded charges in the courtroom over the release of Cauvery water.
"Tamil Nadu's situation is 'water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink'. Some steps have to be taken by Karnataka so that the other State [Tamil Nadu] can exist as an entity. The principle of 'live and let live' has to be applied to this dispute," a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit said.
The emotional appeal and sane advise came from the bench when Tamil Nadu brought to the notice of the court that the Karnataka Chief Minister has said that not a drop of water will be released to it.
Senior lawyer F S Nariman, appearing for Karanataka, said there were rain "deficit months" in the recent past and it was difficult to release the water due to Tamil Nadu.
He said the Tribunal has not provided for an alternative for Karnataka on the point of release of water during distress months.
In a recent plea, Tamil Nadu had sought a direction to Karnataka to release 50.52 tmc feet of Cauvery water to save 40,000 acres of samba crops this season.
In reply, Karnataka has said it has a deficit of about 80 tmc feet in its four reservoirs.
Stressing that the states have to live in harmony, the court, which would hear the matter in detail on September 5, said "We cannot assume what will be the rainfall ... But if there is a formula in the Tribunal award, Karnataka is bound by it."
Supreme Court judge Justice J Chelameswar had earlier recused himself from hearing the batch of petitions and cross- petitions relating to the implementation of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) award, filed by various parties, including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.
Prior to this, the apex court had refused to give an urgent hearing to Tamil Nadu's plea for setting up of Cauvery Management Board for implementation of the CWDT award.
At the directions of the apex court, the Centre, in 2013, had notified the final award of the CWDT on sharing the waters of the Cauvery system among the basin states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and union territory of Puducherry.
The CWDT had recommended the setting up of a Cauvery Management Board/Authority on the lines of the Bhakra Beas Management Board for implementation of the order.
The board, in turn, would constitute a Cauvery Water Regulation Committee for assistance.
The Tribunal, in a unanimous decision in 2007, had determined the total availability of water in the Cauvery basin at 740 thousand million cubic (tmc) feet at the Lower Coleroon Anicut site, including 14 tmcft for environmental protection and seepage into the sea.
The final award made an annual allocation of 419 tmcft to Tamil Nadu in the entire Cauvery basin, 270 tmcft to Karnataka, 30 tmcft to Kerala and 7 tmcft to Puducherry.