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Cauvery verdict: Supreme Court gives Karnataka more

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Supreme Court also made a special allocation for the city of Bengaluru, which will receive 4.75 TMC feet of Cauvery water. 

New Delhi: In a setback to Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court made a dent in its share of Cauvery water by 14.74 thousand million cubic (TMC) annually. That share will now go to Karnataka.

Of the 14.75 TMC, 4.75 TMC will be exclusively for Bengaluru, to be used as drinking water.

“Drinking water needs will be placed over industrial and agricultural needs. Keeping in mind the global status of Bengaluru, an additional allocation is made,” the court said.

While endorsing the 2007 findings of the Cauvery water tribunal, the apex court said no change is made in allocation of water for Kerala and Puducherry.

The tribunal award will be valid for 15 years, after which a fresh assessment is likely to be made.

The court identified that ground water in Tamil Nadu’s Cauvery basin amounts to 20 TMC. Since Karnataka does not have ground water in the Cauvery basin, the court directed that 10 TMC of Tamil Nadu’s water will be diverted to Karnataka.

A fine print of the court order is not yet available.

The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) had unanimously decided that out of 740 thousand million cubic (TMC) feet of Cauvery water, Tamil Nadu will receive 419 tmcft, Karnataka 270 tmcft, Kerala 30 tmcft and Puducherry will get 7 tmcft.

In 2007, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala had filed appeals against the verdict of the tribunal although the award was notified by the government in 2013.

The final award has, however, not been implemented. The apex court’s interim orders have been in place. In October 2017, the top court had ordered Karnataka to release 2000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu every day.

The court had also directed the central government to set up the Cauvery Water Management Board (CWMB) as per the tribunal award. The board is mandated with the task of deciding the water share based on annual rainfall and other criteria.

Although the issue involves Kerala and Puducherry as well, tensions rise between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu every summer when water has to be shared.

Karnataka had contested the final verdict of the tribunal arguing that an unfair allocation has been made to the state which will leave Bengaluru and six neighbouring districts parched. All states have demanded that the tribunal ought to have allocated them a bigger share.

The central government had opposed entertaining the appeals but in December 2016, the court had clarified that it has jurisdiction to hear the appeals.

Apart from CJI Misra, judges Amitava Roy and A.M. Khanwilkar heard the case for over two months. Justice Roy is set to retire in two weeks.

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