Cauvery Verdict: SC Directs Karnataka to Release 177.25 tmcft Water to Tamil Nadu

The Supreme Court has finally given its verdict on the Cauvery water dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. As per the ruling of the apex court, Karnataka would have to release 177.25 tmcft of water to its neighboring state Tamil Nadu. The water would be released from the months of June to May for the next 15 years.

This amount of water to be received by Tamil Nadu is 14.75 tmcft less than the originally fixed amount of 192 tmcft. At the same time, Karnataka has been given additional 14.75 tmcft of water that would fulfill the needs of Bengaluru city. Meanwhile, Kerala and Puducherry would be receiving the same amount of 30 tmcft and 7 tmcft, respectively as given in the earlier tribunal orders.

The Cauvery water dispute began in the year 1892 between the Madras Presidency and the Princely State of Mysore (now Karnataka) over the distribution of water between the states. The states started planning construction of dams in 1910 and later in 1924; an agreement was signed by both states.

As per the agreement, 75% of water was given to Tamil Nadu and Puducherry while Karnataka got 23% share which it had to share with Kerala. Karnataka refused to implement the ruling amidst protests. After 1956, the issue got complicated as talks and agreements failed to resolve the matter. By this time, both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had built dams despite the agreement.

In1972, the centre appointed a committee to collect statistics on water usage whereby it was found that Tamil Nadu had used 566 tmcft of water while Karnataka had used 177 tmcft. In 1976, Karnataka argued that 94% of the river water must be shared equally while the rest could be distributed to Kerala and Puducherry but Tamil Nadu still wanted to stick to the earlier agreements.

By 1991, several rounds of negotiations had taken place but the dispute could not be tackled and riots erupted in both states after the tribunal award that directed 205 tmcft of water for Tamil Nadu every year.

Much like the formation of Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal (CWDT) in 1990, the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) formation also failed to resolve the issue.

In 2016, Tamil Nadu moved to the Supreme Court stating that the 2007 verdict didn’t take the multiple cropping seasons in consideration. The apex court directed Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water per day for 10 day which it later reduced to 12,000.

In January 2018, Supreme Court said that enough confusion has been created over the past two decades and now a final verdict will be given. Meanwhile, when Tamil Nadu appealed Karnataka to release at least 15 tmcft of water, the latter refused by arguing that the storage levels are already low.

Earlier today, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Deepak Mishra gave the final verdict on the petition filed by both states against the tribunal’s final order. The apex court declared that Tamil Nadu will get 177.25 tmcft of Cauvery water while Karnataka would get additional 14.75 tmcft of water. After the verdict, heavy security arrangements have been made in Bengaluru anticipating the outcomes of the SC ruling.