The Supreme Court has slammed the Karnataka government for ignoring the Prime Minister's orders to release water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu. The two states have been locked in a dispute over sharing water from the Cauvery River that goes back more than a century.
On September 19, the Cauvery River Authority, headed by the Prime Minister, asked Karnataka to release 9000 cusecs of water every day to its neighbour till October 15. Karnataka refused and walked out of the meeting.
Taking strong exception to this and ordering Karnataka to release the water immediately, the Supreme Court told Karnataka government, "Prime Minister is the highest authority... you don't want to comply with this order... we are sorry to say this."
Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar has said he will consult legal experts and heads of other parties in his state to decide whether he will seek a review of the Supreme Court order.
Tamil Nadu had approached the top court after Karnataka's refusal to release the water, even telling the court that a minister from Karnataka in the Union Cabinet was saying that the Bangalore shouldn't agree to release the water.
Karnataka, which is governed by the BJP, has accused the Centre of favouring Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu, which faces perennial water shortage, has said that it needs the water urgently to save its crops. But Karnataka has said that it is facing a drought and needs the water for itself. The 800 km long Cauvery river runs through Karnataka and flow into Tamil Nadu.
The sharing of this river's water has been a matter of dispute and political posturing for several decades. Even now, rebel BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa has made this an issue as part of his campaign against his party's senior leadership. Across the border, the Tamil Nadu government run by Ms Jayalalithaa has been targetted for not being able to convince Karnataka to release the water.
The origins of the dispute go back to two agreements, one of 1892 and the other in 1924, to share the Cauvery's water. After that, there have been a series of tribunals, agreements and court cases, none of which have been able to sort the issue out.