Cauvery is an inter‐State basin having its origin Karnataka and flowing through Tamil Nadu and Puduchery before out falling in Bay of Bengal. The total catchment of the Cauvery basin is 81,155 sq.km of which the catchment of the river in Karnataka is about 34,273 sq. km that in Kerala is about 2,866 sq. km and the remaining area of 44,016 sq. km in Tamil Nadu and Puduchery.
- Harangi and Hemavathi dams in Karnataka are constructed across Harangi and Hemavathi rivers which are the tributaries of river Cauvery. Downstream of these two dams Krishna Raja Sagar dam is constructed across main Cauvery in Karnataka. Kabini reservoir of Karnataka is constructed across river Kabini a tributary of Cauvery joining it d/s of Krishna Raja Sagar reservoir. Mettur dam is constructed across main stream of Cauvery in Tamil Nadu. Between the confluence of Kabini with Cauvery and Mettur dam, Central Water Commission has established two G&D sites on main Cauvery namely Kollegal and Billigundulu. Billigundulu G&D site is about 60 km u/s of Mettur dam where the Cauvery river forms its boundary with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
- The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) was constituted by the Government of India on 2nd June 1990 to adjudicate the water dispute regarding inter‐state river Cauvery and the river valley thereof among the States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.
- The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) passed an Interim order on 25th June, 1991 directing the State of Karnataka to release Water from its reservoirs in Karnataka so as to ensure 205 Thousand Million Cubic Feet (TMC) of water into Mettur reservoir of Tamil Nadu in a water year (1st June to 31st May) with monthly and weekly stipulations.
- In respect of a particular month the releases are to be made in four weeks in four equal installments. If in a particular week, it is not possible to release the required quantum of water, the said deficit shall be made good in the subsequent week. 6 TMC of water for Karaikal region of the Union Territory of Pondicherry will be delivered by the State of Tamil Nadu in a regulated manner.
- Upon consideration of the said order, the Hon’ble President of India made a reference to the Supreme Court of India on 27th July,1991 under clause (1) of Article 143 of the Constitution of India for consideration and report among other on :‐
- Whether the Order of the Tribunal constitutes a Report and a Decision within the meaning of Section 5 (2) of the Act; and
- Whether the Order of the Tribunal is required to be published by the Central Government in order to make it effective;
- The Supreme Court has given its opinion on 22nd November, 1991, among others on the above questions that;
- i. The order of the Tribunal dated June 25,1991 constitutes report and decision within the meaning of Section 5 (2) of the Inter State Water Disputes Act,1956;and
- ii. the said order is , therefore, required to be published by the Central Government in the official Gazette under section 6 of the Act in order to make it effective”;
- In view of this, the interim Order dated 25th June,1991 of CWDT was notified in the Gazette of India under Section 6 of ISRWD Act 1956 on 10th December, 1991 to make it effective and binding on the parties to the dispute and is required to be given effect to by them.
- On 14th May, 1992, Government of Tamil Nadu filed an original suit No.1 of 1992 in the Supreme Court praying inter‐alia to pass a decree of mandatory injunction directing the Union of India to frame a scheme making provision for all matters necessary to give effect to the decisions of the Tribunal and to issue a notification thereof in official gazette. The Original suit no. 1/92 came up for hearing before a constitution bench of Supreme Court in 9th April, 1997. On the insistence of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General of India made a statement in the Court on 9th April, 1997 that the Union of India was agreeable to frame a scheme under Section 6A of the Inter State Water Disputes Act, 1956 for the effective implementation of the interim award of the Tribunal. After the hearing on 9th April, 1997, when the Supreme Court directed the Union Government to frame a scheme there have been regular hearings on 20th August, 1997, 30th September 1997, 11th November, 1997, 6th January, 1998, 31st March, 1998, 28th April, 1998 and 21st July, 1998 in the Supreme Court. In view of the above, under the provisions of Section 6A of the ISRWD Act, 1956, the Central Government notified a Scheme called Cauvery Water (implementation of the Interim Order of 1991 and all subsequent Related Orders of the Tribunal) Scheme, 1998 consisting of Cauvery River Authority (CRA) and Monitoring Committee (CMC). The Cauvery River Authority is headed by Hon’ble Prime Minister as Chairperson and Chief Ministers of the basin States as Members. Secretary, MoWR is Secretary to the Authority. The Monitoring Committee consists of Secretary, MoWR as Chairperson, Chief Secretaries and Chief Engineers of the basin States as Members and Chairman, Central Water Commission as Member. CE(IMO),CWC is Member Secretary of the Monitoring Committee. The Authority is required to give effect to the implementation of the Interim Order dated 25th June 1991 of the Tribunal and its related subsequent orders. So far CRA has held 7 meetings and CMC has held 32 meetings. 7th meeting of CRA was held on 19.9.2012. 32nd meeting of CMC was held on 10.1.2013 (in compliance to the Supreme Court Order dated 04.01.2013).
- Cauvery water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) gave its report and decision u/s 5(2) of the ISRWD Act,1956 on 5th February, 2007. The Central Govt and party States filed application for clarification/further guidance u/s 5 (3) of the above said Act. The Party States also filed Special Leave Petition (SLPs) against the above mentioned report and decision of the Tribunal before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Hon’ble Supreme Court on 07.05.2007 has granted Special Leave in the matter.
- The Tribunal took up the petition of the parties for consideration on 10th July, 2007 and observed that party States have also filed Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) against the aforesaid decision of the Tribunal dated 5.2.2007 before the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the Hon’ble Supreme Court has also granted Special Leave Petition. In this background the applications under Section 5(3) of the said Act should be listed for orders after disposal of the appeal of the Supreme Court.
- In view of this Union of India filed an application & affidavit for impleadment in the said SLPs vide letter dated 12.03.2008 citing that Section 11 of the ISRWD Act, 1956 reads that “neither Supreme Court nor any other Court shall have or exercise the jurisdiction in respect of any water dispute which may be referred to the Tribunal under the Act.” The matter is under consideration of the Supreme Court
- Decision of CWDT has been challenged by party States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala before Hon’ble Supreme Court by filling Civil Appeals. Further, the party States have also sought clarification and explanation on the decision of Tribunal under Section 5(3) of ISRWD Act 1956. In the meanwhile, in the 31st meeting of CMC held on 7.12.2012, it had been mentioned that the Ministry of Water Resources would take steps to notify the final Award (decision) in the month of December 2012. In this meeting, the quantity of water which Tamil Nadu was to receive during the month of December, 2012 was determined (12 TMC).
- In the order passed by Hon’ble Supreme Court on 04.01.2013, it has been indicated that Senior Counsel appearing for all the concerned States have stated that they do not have any objection to the final decision by CWDT being notified, without prejudice to their rights and contentions raised in the pending appeals. Hon’ble Supreme Court directed CMC to convene its meeting on or before 11th January 2013 and make appropriate orders regarding the requirement of water for the two states.
- In pursuance to the above order, 32nd meeting of CMC was held on 10.01.2013. In this 32nd meeting of the CMC the object was to determine the water that Tamil Nadu should receive during the month of January, 2013 in terms of the Interim Award. It was decided that Karnataka should regulate the release of water in such a manner so that Tamil Nadu receives 1.51 TMC during the month of January, 2013. All the States except Karnataka again reiterated that the award should be notified at the earliest. The Chief Secretary, Karnataka stated that he would receive orders of the Government on this issue and communicate the same to the CMC within the next two days, extended to one week later on. However, no official communication has been received as on date.
- Against above decision, Tamil Nadu filed an application in Supreme Court praying that 12 TMC water is released forthwith by Karnataka to save its standing crops and meet drinking water requirements. But Karnataka argued during hearing on 29.1.2013 that it has got only that much water in its four reservoirs so as to fulfill its drinking water requirements during remaining four months i.e. February to May. Therefore there is no question of releasing any further water to Tamil Nadu.
- Hearing of above case continued on 4th February 2013. Hon’ble Supreme Court on this day directed the Central Government to publish in official gazette the final decision given by CWDT dated February 5, 2007 as early as may be possible and in no case later than February 20 2013.Accordingly, MOWR has published the final decision dated 05.02.2013 of CWDT in official gazette on 19.02.2013.
- As per Section 6(2) of Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 “The decision of the Tribunal, after its publication in the Official Gazette by the Central Government under sub‐section (1), shall have the same force as an order or decree of the Supreme Court”. Further, Chapter 8, Machinery for implementation of Final Decision/Orders of the Tribunal mentions that “an Inter‐ State forum to be called “Cauvery Management Board” shall be established for the purpose of securing compliance and implementation of the final decision of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal”.
- Meanwhile, an I.A. No. 5 of 2013 in Civil Appeal No. 2456 of 2007 was filed on 18th March, 2013 in the Supreme Court by Government of Tamil Nadu praying for a direction against the Union of India to constitute Cauvery Management Board as per the directions contained in the final Order/Award dated 5.02.2007. In this regard, an Affidavit dated 1st May, 2013 was filed on behalf of Ministry of Water Resources clearly stating that after publication of the decision of CWDT on 19.02.2013, the Ministry of Water Resources has initiated action for constitution of Cauvery Management Board in consultation with concerned Ministries The Hon’ble Supreme Court, during the hearing of above I.A. No. 5 of 2013 on 10.05.2013, has directed to constitute a Supervisory Committee to implement final order dated 5.02.2007 of CWDT which was notified on 19.02.2013, as a purely pro tem measure. The Order dated 10.05.2013 of the Hon’ble Supreme Court inter‐alia reads as under:
“…the follow up action pursuant to the Notification dated February 19, 2013 is under active consideration of the Central Government. Until that is done, some arrangement shall have to be made…
- 19. A Supervisory Committee is constituted for implementation of the final order dated February 5, 2007 as notified vide Notification dated February 19, 2013. The Supervisory Committee shall consist of the Secretary, Union Ministry of Water Resources as Chairman and the Chief Secretaries of the respective States of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry as Members.”
- So far 8 meetings of this Committee have been held on 1.06.2013, 12.06.2013, 15.7.2013 and 8.11.2013, 28.9.2015, 12.9.2016, 19.9.2016 and 17.2.2017 at New Delhi.
- An I.A. No.12/2016 in I.A. No.10 in Civil Appeal No.2456/2007 between State of Karnataka Vs State of Tamil Nadu was filed in Hon’ble Supreme Court where Hon’ble Supreme Court directed “the learned Attorney General of India has submitted that the Union of India is prepared to facilitate so that the impasse between the two States can appositely melt. The learned Sr. Counsel appearing for the State of Karnataka, as suggested by the Attorney Gen. of India, shall be available for discussions with the competent authority of Union of India to be suggested by the Attorney Gen. of India. State of Tamil Nadu has also expressed his consent.
- As a follow-up to the Order dated 27.09.2016 of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in I.A No.12/2016 in I.A.No.10 in Civil Appeal No.2456/2007 (State of Karnataka & Ors. Vs. State of Tamil Nadu), this Ministry convened a meeting on 29.09.2016 of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to resolve the present impasse on release of Cauvery water. The Ministry made sincere efforts to make both the States converge to a consensus on release of Cauvery water. The Ministry communicated the outcome of this meeting to Hon’ble Supreme Court through learned Attorney General of India on 30.09.2016.
- With regard to constitution of Cauvery Management Board, the Attorney General of India clarified the legal position before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. During the hearing of the case in the Supreme Court on 04.10.2016, the Attorney General made his submission and the issue of constitution of Cauvery Management Board has been deferred for the time being. In the interim, on the advice of Attorney General of India, the Hon’ble Supreme Court directed to constitute a Technical Team to visit the Cauvery Basin area to assess the ground realities in the Basin. Accordingly, this Ministry constituted a High Level Technical Team comprising Shri G.S Jha, Chairman, CWC as Chairman, Shri S. Masood Hussain, Member, CWC, Shri R.K. Gupta, Chief Engineer, CWC, Chief Secretaries of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and one Chief Engineer each from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry as Members for assessing the ground realities. The team has submitted its report to the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 17.10.2016. Till then, Govt. of Karnataka was directed to release 2000 cuses of water.
- The matter came up for hearing in the Supreme Court on 18.10.2016, wherein report submitted by High Level Technical Team was taken on records and directed to list the matter for 19.10.2016.
- Hon’ble Supreme Court in its order dated 09.12.2016 directed that these Civil Appeals are maintainable and listed the matter for 15.12.2016 which was deferred to 04.01.2017 for further orders. The case was heard by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 04.01.2017 and adjourned to 07.01.2017, however next hearing was listed on 21.3.2017. Hon’ble Supreme Court on 21.3.2017 has directed that the interim order passed on 4th January, 2017, to be continued till the next date of hearing on 11.07.2017.
Report and Decision of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal
“This matter is sub judice in the Hon’ble Court.The term of the tribunal has been extended for 6 months i.e. upto 2nd May, 2018 vide notification No. S.O. 3501 (E) dated 02.11.2017 for submission of report under section 5(3) of the ISRWD Act, 1956.”