New Delhi, Oct. 4: The Supreme Court today ordered Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs of Cauvery water a day to Tamil Nadu, while keeping the contempt of court sword hanging over the head of chief minister S.M. Krishna till October 24.
A three-judge bench of Chief Justice B.N. Kirpal, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice Arijit Pasayat said the September 8 order of the Cauvery River Authority directing Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs (0.8 tmc feet) of water a day should be complied with.
The court posted to October 24 the hearings on the contempt petition filed by Tamil Nadu against the Karnataka chief minister, water resources minister and chief secretary.
On September 3, the court had ordered the release of 1.25 tmc feet of water but had added that the river authority’s directive would supercede the apex court order. On September 8, the river authority ordered the release of 9,000 cusecs a day.
“Karnataka is under an obligation to release 0.8 tmc ft water. We are ill-equipped to go into the ground situation. Certainly the Prime Minister is more aware of the same. You are bound to comply with the Prime Minister's order,” the court said. The river authority is headed by the Prime Minister.
“You (Karnataka) shall obey the Cauvery River Authority order but it is open to the CRA to change its order,” it said when Karnataka repeatedly contended that release of more water to Tamil Nadu would adversely affect the standing crops.
Appearing for Tamil Nadu, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal said that due to non-release of water by Karnataka during June-August, the kuruvai crops were destroyed. “If water is not immediately released, (by Karnataka) the samba crops, which were on the verge of transplantation stage, would also meet the fate of the kuruvai crops,” he said.
Karnataka’s counsel, senior advocate Anil Divan, contended that any release of water now would be harmful to the standing crops in view of the onset of the northeast monsoon.
Tamil Nadu’s case is that Karnataka had not complied with either the court order or the river authority’s directive and had totally stopped water release. Krishna and others should be punished for contempt of court, it said. The contempt matter was adjourned to October 24. In his reply to the contempt notices, Krishna said the court did not have the jurisdiction to decide on the release of the water or to try him for contempt. He added that Karnataka had released 0.8 tmc feet of water and that no contempt has been committed. Krishna said a Cabinet meeting and an all-party meeting would be held in Bangalore tomorrow to consider the court’s direction.