NEW DELHI: In a big relief to Karnataka, the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Friday ordered it to provide 177.2 TMC water to Tamil Nadu, in connection with the decades-old Cauvery water sharing dispute case.
The apex court verdict implies that Karnataka will now get an additional 14.75 TMC as compared to the previous 2007 order, where it was directed to give 192 TMC to Tamil Nadu.
''Karnataka will now release 177.25 tmc ft of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu from its inter-state Biligundlu dam,'' the apex court said in its order.
''No deviance shall be shown by any state,'' the Supreme Court said while delivering the Cauvery verdict.
The top court also made it clear that increase in the share of Cauvery water for Karnataka by 14.75 TMC has been done keeping in view the fact that there is an increased demand of drinking water by Bengaluru and also for many industrial activities.
The top court, however, ruled that the 20 TMC of groundwater in Tamil Nadu had not been accounted for and needed to be seen.
The verdict was delivered by the three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar.
The apex court ruling has been widely welcomed by politicians and activists from Karnataka, however, the leading political parties in Tamil Nadu, including DMK and the AIADMK, have termed it as a ''shocker'' and ''extremely disappointing''.
-Distribution and use of the Cauvery river water has been a dispute between the regions of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for more than a century. The first trouble was recorded as early as 1881 when the then State of Mysore had planned a dam across the Cauvery river. The State of Madras objected to it.
-Following mediation by the British, an agreement was reached in 1892 which was replaced by another accord in 1924. However, the dispute over distribution of Cauvery river water kept simmering through the pre- and post-Independence years.
-Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) was set up in 1990 to address the issue. The tribunal announced its award in 2007. The Centre issued the relevant notification of the award only in 2013 following a Supreme Court order.
-The Cauvery tribunal distributed the river water among four riparian states. The tribunal allocated 419 tmc feet water to Tamil Nadu, 270 tmc feet to Karnataka, 30 tmc feet to Kerala (as a tributary of Cauvery flows through it) and 7 tmc feet to Pudducherry (located at the mouth of Cauvery).
-The Cauvery tribunal found that the river has 740 tmc feet of water at 50 percent dependability calculating the volume on water availability over a period of hundred years. The tribunal mandated Karnataka to release 192 TMC feet of water every water year i.e. between June and May.
-The tribunal also said that during bad monsoon, the states must share water distress in the same proportion. This provision has been the breeding ground for further water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. With monsoon being erratic in past few years and Bengaluru facing an acute water crisis, Karnataka maintains that it doesn't have enough water in the Cauvery river basin to share with Tamil Nadu.
-On the other hand, Tamil Nadu was also not happy with the Cauvery tribunal award. In August 2016, Tamil Nadu moved the Supreme Court claiming that the tribunal's award was erroneous as it took into consideration only one cropping season.
-Tamil Nadu argued that the farmers in the state cultivated two crops a year, as a matter of rule and, hence, they should get more water than their counterparts in Karnataka. Tamil Nadu stated that its farmers needed more water than awarded by the Cauvery tribunal to begin sowing samba - a kind of paddy grown in the state.
-Tamil Nadu government's move prompted Karnataka to approach the Supreme Court with the plea seeking additional water for the state. It also said that releasing more water than mandated by the Cauvery tribunal would not be possible on account of erratic monsoon and low rainfall.
-In September 2016, the Supreme Court had, however, ordered Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu every day for 10 days. But the Supreme Court order resulted in widespread and violent protests across Karnataka. The districts of Mandya, Mysuru and Hassan were particularly affected.
(With Agency inputs)