Tamil Nadu to sue Karnataka for crop loss in Cauvery delta
In a move that will intensify the ongoing legal battle over sharing of Cauvery waters, the Tamil Nadu government has decided to appeal to the Supreme Court for payment of damages from Karnataka for the recent loss of paddy crop in the Cauvery delta region of the state. According to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the loss of crops is caused by Karnataka’s adamant stance on not releasing Tamil Nadu’s quota of water.
In a press release issued on January 21, the chief minister said she has given orders to file a fresh case against Karnataka government’s refusal to release adequate water as per the orders of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal and the Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC).
“Considering the adamant approach of Karnataka in not releasing due share of water to Tamil Nadu in line with existing tribunal verdict, which has been recorded by the CMC, I have directed officials to file an original suit for claiming damages from Karnataka to compensate the damages suffered by Tamil Nadu,” says the press statement. According to the chief minister, besides crop loss, hydroelectric power generation in the state has also been affected due to Karnataka’s reluctance to release water.
On the advice of the apex court for bilateral talks, Jayalalithaa says she had held talks with her Karnataka counterpart, D V Sadananda Gowda, in Bengaluru on November 29. “Though I pressed for the immediate release of 30,000 million cubic feet (tmc ft) (1 cubic foot equals 0.0283 cubic metre) in 15 days and 53.4 tmc ft throughout December, Karnataka was not willing to give even a drop of water,” says the statement.
As a sequel to a petition filed by the Tamil Nadu government, the court, on December 5, directed the Cauvery Monitoring Committee to meet immediately and assess the requirements of the two states in that meeting. The committee did not accept the plea of Tamil Nadu for 36 tmc ft, but asked Karnataka to ensure that 12 tmc ft was given in December.
Another petition was filed on December 20, seeking at least 18 tmc ft. Hearing this petition on January 4, the court ordered that the committee hold its meeting to decide matters, including the shortfall to be released to Tamil Nadu and the crop requirements of the two states.
In its meeting on January 10, the committee went on record that as per a distress-sharing formula, there was a shortfall of 31.4 tmc ft in the quantum of water released by Karnataka to Tamil Nadu during June 1 to December 31, 2012 and Karnataka did not regulate the release of water as per the tribunal’s interim award. Tamil Nadu pressed in the court that the matter be heard urgently. The court would hear the matter on January 28.
Tamil Nadu has also been putting pressure on the Centre to notify the final award of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal given in February, 2007 but Karnataka has opposed it citing pendency of petitions challenging the award in the Supreme Court.
In the meanwhile, Jayalalithaa said a high-level panel led by the state finance minister O Panneerselvam, which was appointed to assess the paddy crop loss in the Cauvery delta districts, would submit its report soon. Based on the report, the state government will take appropriate actions for the welfare of the farmers.