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Home > News > PTI

Sort out Cauvery row: SC to TN, Karnataka

April 24, 2007 03:53 IST

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and his Karnataka counterpart Kumaraswamy Gowda to sit together and sort out the vexed Cauvery river water dispute, and also suggested that Centre come out with a comprehensive policy to exploit the huge sea water potential.

"The court can decide only on the principle of law. So it is better the chief ministers and chief secretaries of the two states sit together and sort out the issue," a Bench of Justices S B Sinha and Markandeya Katju said, while declining to pass any immediate order on a plea of the Cauvery Water Users Association, Bangalore, for quashing the recent award passed by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.

The Bench said it was not inclined to pass any order as it was bound to trigger protests in the aggrieved state, hence, felt that the chief ministers of the two states display some statesmanship to resolve the issue.

The Cauvery Water Users Association, Bangalore, had filed the writ petition seeking a quash of the February 5, award made by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.

The association had challenged the award as being arbitrary and claimed that Bangalore city which was earlier receiving 14.52 TMC, had been allotted a meagre 1.75 TMC under the February 5 award.

Admitting that scarcity of water has been a serious issue confronting the entire country, the Bench suggested that it was high time the Government seriously explored the issue for desalinisation of the huge sea water by conducting the necessary research.

The apex court felt that the Government should take assistance of the scientists in the court and explore the possibility of converting the sea water into potable water.

"We have the best brains, scientists and mathematicians in the country. Why don't you take their assistance," the Bench remarked while refusing to pass any orders as sought by Salve.

The Bench said that water scarcity was a perennial problem across the country and needed an appropriate action plan to overcome the crisis.

Justice Katju also remarked that the problem was mainly due to the encorachments of age old water bodies like tanks, ponds and rivers by vested interests.

On February 5, this year the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) gave its final verdict in the decades-old politically sensitive row, allocating 419 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of water to Tamil Nadu out of 740 tmcft available in the basin. But the actual release by Karnataka to Tamil Nadu would be only 192 tmcft annually.

In the final order running to over 1000 pages in five volumes, the three-member Tribunal headed by retired Justice N P Singh allocated 270 tmcft of water for Karnataka, 30 tmcft for Kerala and seven tmcft for Puducherry in a "normal" year.

The Tribunal, which was constituted in 1990 and had given an interim order allocating 205 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu, said the final order would supercede the agreements of 1892 and 1924 between the then governments of Madras and Mysore.

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