The much-anticipated Cauvery river water verdict was announced by the Supreme Court on Friday, with Karnataka getting 14.5 tmc ft more than it was earlier. The verdict also said that Bengaluru would receive 4.75 tmc ft more than it previously did.
Bengaluru previously received 18.25 tmc ft of water from the Cauvery. With the present allocation, Bengaluru will receive a total of 23 tmc ft. However, for Bengaluru, Karnataka had demanded a total of 30 tmc ft.
“The Tribunal had drastically reduced the share of Karnataka towards Domestic and Industrial purpose for the reason being that only 1/3rd of the city of Bengaluru falls within the river basin and also on the presumption that 50% of the drinking water requirement would be met from ground water supply. The said view taken by the Tribunal ignores the basic principle pertaining to drinking water and is, thus unsustainable. Keeping in mind the global status that the city has attained, an addition of 4.75 TMC is awarded to Karnataka,” the SC said in its order.
“In totality, we deem it appropriate to award to the State of Karnataka an additional 14.75 TMC of water, i.e., 10 TMC (on account of availability of ground water in Tamil Nadu) + 4.75 TMC (for drinking and domestic purposes including such need for the whole city of Bengaluru),” the order further said.
The additional allocation of water for drinking and domestic use purposes to Bengaluru has been welcomed by the counsel of the state.
“As far as Bengaluru is concerned, we are very happy,” said Brijesh Kalappa, Karnataka’s counsel.
However, experts warn that just an additional allocation will not ease Bengaluru’s water woes.
“Bengaluru was receiving 19 tmc ft and now an additional 4.75 tmc ft has been allocated. Although it may seem like relief, it is not because only 50% of the city gets Cauvery water. What Bengaluru needs is an integrated water management plan where rainwater and wastewater can be harnessed to its maximum extent,” said Dr Sharathchandra Lele from the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment.
In September 2016, an Indiaspend report said that Bengaluru wasted nearly 50% of the water supply it received due to leakages in the water supply system and unauthorised water connections, quoting a paper by the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC).
“Water leakages largely take place at distribution mains, service pipes and stand posts and together account for 88.5 per cent of water spillover, the rest being low leakages at main valve, meter joint stop valve, ferrule, air valve and others,” the paper said.
While reading out the verdict, Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that no state can claim ownership of Cauvery water for rivers are national property. The Supreme Court added that the share has increased for Karnataka because of an increased demand for drinking water and for industrial activities.