In what could give rise to fresh stand-off between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the Karnataka government on Monday moved Supreme Court seeking the modification of the 20 September order asking the state to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to its neighbouring state. Expressing its inability to release water as directed by the apex court the Karnataka government told the court that its reservoirs don't have adequate water. The state further stated that it could only comply to the Supreme Court order only by the end of the year as major cities in the state will be in serious distress over drinking water, according to a report in NDTV.
The apex court had also directed the Centre to constitute within four weeks the Cauvery Water Management Board (CWMB) as directed by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) in its award.
The move comes after Karnataka Legislative Assembly and the Council adopted a resolution, on Friday, deciding not to provide water for any other purpose except to meet drinking needs, citing "acute distress" and "alarmingly low levels" in its dams. Acting on the resolution, in what is being seen as an unprecedented move in the more than century-old Cauvery dispute with the neighbouring state, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday apprised the Prime Minister of its decision to approach the apex court seeking modification of the order, according to a report in The Hindu.
"An impossible situation wherein it is not possible to comply with a court order has been created," Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said, as after the 23 September resolution was passed in the Assembly, which rallied behind the government cutting across party lines.
The resolution which did not refer to the apex court 20 September order to the state to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu from 21 to 27 September, came two days after the state cabinet decided to "defer" the release till Friday, following an all-party meeting on the issue. Siddaramaiah maintained that the state was in "severe distress" and struggling to meet even the drinking water needs in the Cauvery basin while repeatedly stressing that his government held the judiciary in great respect and there was no intention to disobey the Supreme Court order.
"Nobody should construe as if we are challenging the Supreme Court," he said, adding, his government had equal respect for all the three organs — legislature, executive and judiciary, "more so for judiciary." "People have given us a mandate. We cannot defy it," he said, asserting, otherwise, "it would be a dereliction of duty on our part."
Prefacing his remarks on the water crisis in the state, Siddaramaiah said, "We have great respect for the judiciary. The intention is not to disobey the judicial order. We will not think of it even in our dreams."
The resolution highlighted the "state of acute distress", and said it was "imperative" that the government ensures that no water from the present storages be drawn "save and except" for meeting drinking water needs of villages and towns in the Cauvery basin and Bengaluru. The interests of the inhabitants of the state are likely to be gravely jeopardised if water in the four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin was in anyway reduced other than for meeting the drinking water needs of the people, it said.
With inputs from PTI