The Supreme Court on Friday delivered the long-awaited Cauvery water sharing verdict. The court announced that Tamil Nadu would get 177.25 tmc ft water, and Karnataka would get 14.75 tmc ft more than it was allocated in the previous judgement. Karnataka's allocation now stands at 284.75 tmc ft.
Tamil Nadu's share of water has been reduced to 177.25 tmc ft from 192 tmc ft. The SC added that 20 tmc ft of groundwater in Tamil Nadu had not been accounted for.
The Supreme Court also said that Karnataka can expand its irrigation area. Bengaluru will receive 4.75 tmc ft more.
There has been no change in allocation for Kerala and Puducherry. It was also announced that the Cauvery Management Board would be constituted.
This order will be applicable for the next 15 years.
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.
The century-old dispute concerns the sharing of Cauvery river water between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.
The verdict was eagerly awaited by farmer coalitions and political parties in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Puducherry. Apart from serving as a source of drinking water, the river is crucial to agriculture in Karnataka and TN.
Both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka beefed up security on Friday ahead of the verdict. Bus services between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were halted by both states.
In September 2017, the apex court reserved its order on the appeals filed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala against the final award of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal in 2007.
The 765-km-long river originates in Kodagu district’s Talacauvery in Karnataka and flows through many districts of TN and Karnataka. The river and its tributaries also flow through Kerala and Puducherry.
The dispute has been going on since the time of the British Raj. In 1924, the British made the Princely State of Mysore and the Madras Presidency sign an agreement, which lapsed in 1924.
Between 1960 and the late 1980s, Karnataka built four dams on the Cauvery, which put Tamil Nadu, the lower riparian state, at a disadvantage.
After the agreement lapsed in 1974, Karnataka had then suggested that both states get 47% of the water each, with the rest shared between Kerala and Puducherry. Tamil Nadu wanted the agreement to go on.
An unhappy TN moved the Supreme Court demanding a tribunal be formed to look into the issue.
The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) was formed in 1990. However, both states have expressed unhappiness over its award.
After much to and fro, In 2007, in its final award, the CWDT ruled that of the available 740 tmc, Tamil Nadu would receive 419 tmc ft, Karnataka would get 270 tmc ft, and Kerala and Puducherry would get 30 tmc and 7 tmc respectively.
The tribunal rules that in a distress year, the shares would be proportionately reduced among the states.
This lack of clarity of how water would be shared in a distress year is one of the root causes of the dispute.
In 2013, the central government notified the final award.
Following this, on many occasions, the two states have sparred over the sharing of water with Karnataka arguing that on years with scanty rainfall, it would not be able to release water to Tamil Nadu at all.
In September 2017, the Supreme Court reserved its judgement on the appeals filed by the states against the CWDT’s final award.