NEW DELHI: All eyes are on the Supreme Court as it is likely to deliver verdict in the decades-old Cauvery water dispute case between the neighbouring states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra will pronounce the verdict on the appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala against the 2007 order of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal (CWDT) on sharing of water.
The bench had reserved its order on the matter on September 20, 2017.
The state governments in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Puducherry had filed petitions seeking modification of Cauvery Tribunal's final order. The verdict hold significance since sharing the Cauvery water is an emotive as well existential issue for thousands of families dependent on the river that flows between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Security has been beefed up in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu ahead of the verdict in Cauvery water dispute case.
Distribution and use of the Cauvery river water has been a dispute between the regions of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for more than a century. The first trouble was recorded as early as 1881 when the then State of Mysore had planned a dam across the Cauvery river. The State of Madras objected to it.
-Following mediation by the British, an agreement was reached in 1892 which was replaced by another accord in 1924. However, the dispute over distribution of Cauvery river water kept simmering through the pre- and post-Independence years.
-Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) was set up in 1990 to address the issue. The tribunal announced its award in 2007. The Centre issued the relevant notification of the award only in 2013 following a Supreme Court order.
-The Cauvery tribunal distributed the river water among four riparian states. The tribunal allocated 419 tmc feet water to Tamil Nadu, 270 tmc feet to Karnataka, 30 tmc feet to Kerala (as a tributary of Cauvery flows through it) and 7 tmc feet to Pudducherry (located at the mouth of Cauvery).
-The Cauvery tribunal found that the river has 740 tmc feet of water at 50 percent dependability calculating the volume on water availability over a period of hundred years. The tribunal mandated Karnataka to release 192 TMC feet of water every water year i.e. between June and May.
-The tribunal also said that during bad monsoon, the states must share water distress in the same proportion. This provision has been the breeding ground for further water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. With monsoon being erratic in past few years and Bengaluru facing an acute water crisis, Karnataka maintains that it doesn't have enough water in the Cauvery river basin to share with Tamil Nadu.
-On the other hand, Tamil Nadu was also not happy with the Cauvery tribunal award. In August 2016, Tamil Nadu moved the Supreme Court claiming that the tribunal's award was erroneous as it took into consideration only one cropping season.
-Tamil Nadu argued that the farmers in the state cultivated two crops a year, as a matter of rule and, hence, they should get more water than their counterparts in Karnataka. Tamil Nadu stated that its farmers needed more water than awarded by the Cauvery tribunal to begin sowing samba - a kind of paddy grown in the state.
-Tamil Nadu government's move prompted Karnataka to approach the Supreme Court with the plea seeking additional water for the state. It also said that releasing more water than mandated by the Cauvery tribunal would not be possible on account of erratic monsoon and low rainfall.
-In September 2016, the Supreme Court had, however, ordered Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu every day for 10 days. But the Supreme Court order resulted in widespread and violent protests across Karnataka. The districts of Mandya, Mysuru and Hassan were particularly affected.