The Supreme Court pulled up the Karnataka government on Friday for its defiant stand on the Cauvery water sharing issue, directing it to release 6,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu from October 1 to 6.
“Karnataka shall not be bent upon to take an obstinate stand of defiance as one does not know when wrath of the law will fall upon them,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit said.
“Karnataka is flouting order and creating situation in which majesty of law is dented,” the SC said, and directed the Centre to constitute the Cauvery Water Management Board (CWMB) by October 4.
Senior officials in the water resources ministry said that they have already started the process to constitute the Board.
“The process is on. Once the board is constituted, it will decide on the quantum of water to be released. The order of the board will be binding on the two states,” an official said.
The court ordered all the stakeholders – Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pudduchery – to name, by Saturday 4 pm, their representatives to the board which would be chaired by the Union Water Minister Uma Bharti.
The bench reminded Karnataka that it is bound by Article 144 of the Constitution and “aid in compliance” of the order of the Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, the court had asked Karnataka to release Cauvery water in the next three days despite the unanimous assembly resolution to use the water only for drinking. Karnataka decided on Wednesday to defer the release of 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu till Thursday.
In its Tuesday order, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre to constitute within four weeks the CWMB as directed by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT).
On Friday, it asked the Centre to set up the board by October 4.
The court had earlier asked the Union water ministry to facilitate a meeting between representatives of the two states after Karnataka refused to release the water following the apex court’s direction.
However, after chairing a three-hour meeting, water minister Uma Bharti said she was “disappointed” as a “solution outside court could not be achieved”.
“Tamil Nadu did not agree to Karnataka’s proposal that a central team of experts visits the Cauvery river basin to assess ground realities, including the quantum of water stored in reservoirs, drinking water available and crop situation, before a decision is taken to release water,” Bharti had said.