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SC orders Karnataka to release 2,000 cusecs water to TN, hold setting up of Cauvery Management Board

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Karnataka to release 2,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu daily from October 7 to October 18. However, 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.”

The court has set up a technical panel headed by Chairman Central water commission to visit both states and submit a report by October 17. The CWMB issue will be taken up again on October 18, said reports.

In Tamil Nadu, several major political parties including the DMK and AIADMK had opposed the Centre’s U-turn on the CWMB. DMK chief M Karunanidhi had accused the Modi government playing politics with an eye on the 2018 Karnataka polls.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had on Monday contended before the Supreme Court that only Parliament had the right to constitute the CWMB. Citing Article 262, he had said that the Modi government’s earlier acceptance of the direction was his “mistake”, and said there was an embargo on the Supreme Court from passing orders to form a Cauvery management board.

Rohatgi contended that Article 262 mandated that the Supreme Court cannot entertain any matter pertaining to an inter-State river dispute once a tribunal set up under parliamentary legislation has passed its final order.

In effect, this means that the Supreme Court has no right to entertain any petitions or applications post the 2007 Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal final order.

The decision taken by Karnataka Assembly in its special session on Monday is because the water storage levels in Hemavathy, Harangi, Kabini and Krishnaraja Sagar had increased to 34.13 TMC ft as of Monday from 27.60 TMC ft on September 23, according to the reports.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday said in the last 10 days, there was inflow of an average of 7,000 cusecs per day into Cauvery basin reservoirs and if water is released into canals in the state, 3,000 cusecs would flow naturally and be recorded at Biligundlu, besides seepage water. About 1,200 to 1,300 cusecs would also flow even if the crest gates are closed.

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