The Supreme Court directed Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu every day till September 27.
The bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, giving the direction to Karnataka, also directed the central government to constitute a Cauvery Management Board in four weeks’ time and report to the court with notification of it being set up.
The order for releasing 6,000 cusecs is double the 3,000 cusecs ordered by the Cauvery Supervisory Committee (CSC), but half of the 12,000 cusecs the court had ordered on September 12 for Karnataka to release till September 20.
The sharing of waters of the Kaveri river has been the source of a serious conflict between the two Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The genesis of this conflict rests in two agreements in 1892 and 1924 between the erstwhile Madras Presidency and Princely State of Mysore.
The 802 kilometres (498 mi) Kaveri river has 44,000 km2 basin area in Tamil Nadu and 32,000 km2 basin area in Karnataka.
Karnataka claims that the British-era agreement was not correct as it did not get its due share of water.
On the other hand, Tamil Nadu believes that it needs the water to sustain extensive farming that has increased because of Karnataka’s commitment to providing sufficient water.
Karnataka wants to triple its water share from the river, that originates from Kodagu and flows through Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala, which means there Tamil Nadu’s portion will reduce.
Cauvery Water Tribunal
As both states refused to agree through talks, the Centre constituted the Cauvery Water Tribunal in 1990. After hearing both sides for years, the tribunal in its final award in 2007 gave 419 tmc ft for Tamil Nadu and 270 tmc ft for Karnataka. Kerala was awarded 30 tmc ft and Pondicherry 7 tmc ft.
Both governments challenged the decision in the Supreme Court.
The dispute escalates when monsoon fails, as there is lesser water to share. And this year, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have received less than normal rainfall during the monsoon. Karnataka says it cannot release water to TN for agriculture as it needs it for drinking water purposes.