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Photo: Mint

Karnataka’s arguments fail to cut much ice with Supreme Court

New order will mean Karnataka ends up releasing more water to neighbour ing Tamil Nadu

Karnataka’s decision to seek a modification and a temporary suspension of a 5 September order of the Supreme Court (SC) boomeranged on Monday, with the apex court ordering the state to release 12,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu every day until 20 September.

Last week, the court ordered that the state release 15,000 cusecs a day for 10 days (till 16 September). Karnataka followed that order despite widespread violence in the state, and approached the court on Saturday, seeking a week’s suspension in the order and a modification.

The new order will mean Karnataka ends up releasing more water to its neighbour. A bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and U.U. Lalit held an urgent hearing on the matter.

Lawyers representing both states met the judges (after the order) to seek clarifications. The judges confirmed the ruling and asked the states to approach the Cauvery Supervisory Committee set up by the apex court to implement the award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT).

Karnataka has repeatedly raised concerns over deficient rainfall and an imminent drought in the state.

One expert called the ruling arbitrary and without rationale.

“There is no scientific basis for the court to arrive at a figure of 15,000 cusecs or 12,000 cusecs. These ad hoc measures by the court only rake up tensions. Instead, the court should have pulled up the supervisory committee which has not resolved the issue," said Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator at South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People.

The Supreme Court came down heavily on the Karnataka government and said that difficulty in implementing orders could not be made the grounds for seeking abeyance.

In its affidavit, Karnataka sought suspension of the court’s order until the Cauvery Supervisory Committee delivers a ruling, citing the law and order situation in the state and difficulty in enforcing the court’s order.

“All the opposition party leaders unanimously agreed not to release water to Tamil Nadu. The chief minister took it upon himself to enforce the court’s order," senior counsel Fali S. Nariman, appearing for Karnataka, told the Supreme Court.

The recent rulings of the SC are interim orders as several lawsuits between the states are pending.

The case will be heard next on 20 September.

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