Bengaluru: Karnataka on Saturday filed a special petition in the Supreme Court seeking it modify its order on releasing Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu in view of the distress situation, a state minister said.
"Our lawyers have filed the petition in the Supreme Court for modifying its September 5 order, which directed Karnataka to release daily 15,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu for 10 days from September 7. As our reservoirs in the river basin have insufficient water due to deficit rains, we are not in a position to release more water," state Law Minister T.B. Jayachandra told the media after an emergency cabinet meeting here.
Hoping that the apex curt would hear the special petition on Monday and respond favourably, the minister said though the state had been releasing 15,000 cusecs of water daily since September 7, the state would like the top court to reduce the quantum of release to 10,000 cusecs daily for six days as offered by the state earlier. "As a goodwill gesture, we offered to release 10,000 cusecs daily for six days on September 5 after the apex court on September 2 asked us to specify how much we could release adopting a policy of live and let live," he said.
A division bench of the apex court headed by Justice Dipak Mishra and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit had asked the state to respond to Tamil Nadu's plea for releasing 50 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of the river water to it as specified in the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal Award of 2013. Though Karnataka challenged the tribunal award, which specified the state to release 192 tmcft of water every year to Tamil Nadu from June to December in a normal year, if the southwest monsoon is normal, it (tribunal) did not give a method or formula for sharing the water during distress due to deficit rains.
In a related development, the state government has also filed an application with the Cauvery Supervisory Committee in New Delhi, expressing its inability to release more water than it had offered as the reservoirs in the river basin had just enough water for drinking purpose in the Mysuru region till June next.
The combined storage of water in Kabini, Krishna Raja Sagar, Harangi and Hemavathi reservoirs across the river basin was 115 tmcft, while the live storage is 104 tmcft on August 31 as against the normal flow of 216 tmcft. A cusec, which is a measure of flow rate of water per second, is equivalent to a flow of 28.317 litres per second and 11,000 cusecs is equivalent to 1 tmcft.
The apex court constituted the Supervisory Committee in May 2013 as a pro-tem measure for implementing the Tribunal award, which the central government notified in February of 2013 and six years after the tribunal declared the award in February 2007. This committee has Union Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekar as chairman while Chief Secretaries of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry are its members, besides officials from the Central Water Commission. "We hope the Supervisory Committee would rush a fact-finding team to assess the water levels in the reservoirs and restrain Tamil Nadu from asking more water than we are able to release now," added Jayachandra.