New Delhi: After angry warnings from the Supreme Court including a reference to the impending "wrath of the law," Karnataka said today that it will follow orders to release water from the River Cauvery to neighbouring Tamil Nadu. But for now, it has to release 2,000 cusecs instead of the 6,000 cusecs a day that was ordered by the court earlier.
- Karnataka stops defying orders on River Cauvery
- Will share water from Oct 1 to 6 with Tamil Nadu
- Began releasing water last night after top court's scolding
In a setback for Tamil Nadu, the court also put on hold the setting up of Cauvery Management Board. The direction came after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who was representing the Centre, said, "The Cauvery Management Board can't be set up like this. It has to go to Parliament. We have to go by law."
Yesterday, the Centre had explained its failure to explain this earlier as a "mistake". The matter will now be heard on October 18.
The court has set up a technical panel headed by the chairman of the Central Water Commission to visit both states and submit a report by October 17. As an interim arrangement, the court ordered that Karnataka will release 2,000 cusecs of water a day from October 7 to October 18.
Tamil Nadu has accused the Centre of joining hands with Karnataka on opposing the setting up of the Management Board. The state contends that the BJP-led Central government was siding with Karnataka in view of the assembly elections due there in 2018.
Till yesterday, Karnataka had refused to comply with the top court's instructions to share 6,000 cusecs of water for six days. Last night, the government changed its stand, claiming that recent rains meant it could afford to share. The sudden change of heart came after the Supreme Court made it clear that it would brook no further dissent.
Early in September, the top court had agreed with Tamil Nadu's request for a larger portion of water from the river Cauvery which originates in Karnataka and flows across the border.
The Karnataka government headed by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had reluctantly followed the decree. But violent protests erupted including in state capital of Bengaluru, where two people died and property worth crores was lost.
When the Supreme Court issued another order asking that more water be provided to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka refused, claiming its four reservoirs were running low and there was barely enough water for its major metros.
The tug-of-war over the River Cauvery is nearly a century old. In 2007, a tribunal created by the Supreme Court delivered its decision on how water should be shared, but the states involved, including Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry, challenged the allocation.