Cauvery River Water Dispute: SC refuses to interfere with CWMA and CWRC order directing the release of 5000 cusecs of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu

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Today, the Supreme Court refused to interfere with the order passed by the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) directing the State of Karnataka to release 5000 cusecs of water at Biligundlu for 15 days (13 September to 27 September). The CWMA affirmed the order passed by the Cauvery Water Regulatory Committee (CWRC). While hearing the matter today, the bench including Justice BR GavaiJustice Prashant Kumar Mishra, and Justice PS Narasimha observed that the CWRC and CWMA consist of various experts in the field of water resource management and agriculture. Senior Advocate appearing for the State of Tamil Nadu, Mukul Rohatgi argued that despite the CWMA and CWRC acknowledgment that the state can release 7200 cusecs of water, the same has been reduced to 5000. He further argued “It is a distress year for everyone. I’m in a lower agrarian state. The calculation is based on that. In a regular year, I would have been eligible for 3 times more.” 

Following this, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan appearing for the State of Karnataka submitted that the CWMA’s order is against Karnataka and informed the SC bench about a separate application filed by Karnataka against the order. He further argued, “Karnataka doesn’t even get the benefit of the North East Monsoons.” The latest application filed by Karnataka reads, “This water year of 2023-24 has begun on a bad note. The south-west monsoon which feeds the catchment in Karnataka has failed miserably. Even at the reservoir level, which covers a part of the catchment, the shortfall is 53.42%. If the shortfall is considered up to the inter-State border, Biligundulu, where flows are accountable, shortfall and distress would be much more than 53.42%.”

During the court proceedings, Justice Gavai said “There are rival claims, Tamil Nadu is saying they need 7200 cusecs, Karnataka is saying they can only give 2000 cusecs. We are not inclined to interfere. Every 15 days they are monitoring and reviewing it. It is a body consisting of various experts and they have given their reasons.” Also, the bench was satisfied with the fact that the CWMA and CWRC had addressed all important factors including drought before fixing the water release rate. After hearing the arguments of both parties, the SC bench refused to interfere with the order.

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