Karnataka Chief Minister K. Siddaramaiah on Friday said he was happy with the Supreme Court's verdict on the Cauvery water sharing dispute even though the court had only partly allowed Karnataka's appeal in the matter.
"Though the verdict is not in accordance with our prayer in the appeal, we have got some relief. I'm happy with this," Siddaramaiah told reporters at a press conference after presenting the state budget.
"This is an inter-state matter and I'm not going to say somebody has gained and another lost. After all, we are in a federal set-up. But some of our difficulties have been addressed and we have got relief," Siddaramaiah said, pointing out that the state's arguments on Bangalore city's water requirements were upheld. "Earlier, only one-third of Bangalore city was taken as falling within the Cauvery basin. That decision is changed now," he said.
The Supreme Court awarded Karnataka an additional 14.75 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of water, taking into account the availability of 10 TMC of groundwater in Tamil Nadu and 4.75 TMC for Bangalore's drinking water requirements. Karnataka would now have to release 177.25 TMC annually to Tamil Nadu instead of 192 TMC previously.
The apex court noted that the Cauvery tribunal had drastically reduced Karnataka's share towards domestic and industrial purposes citing the reason that only a third of the city was within the river basin and also on the presumption that 50 percent of its 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 bench said in its order.
Assembly elections are due in Karnataka in a couple of months and Friday's verdict, many observers reckon, will give the ruling Congress a leg-up. The fundamentally new element in the verdict, says political commentator Narendar Pani, was that the whole area of Bangalore was taken into consideration. "As far as the elections are concerned, I think they (Congress) will use it, particularly in Bangalore," he added.
"The Supreme Court's verdict on the Cauvery is welcome and will help our farmers and ease Bengaluru’s drinking water problem. A well-thought plan is needed for utilisation of water for the welfare of farmers in the Cauvery basin," the BJP's state president B S Yeddyurappa said on Twitter. "The demand for water is only going to increase in the coming years. When BJP comes to power, we shall work towards increasing the green cover in the Western Ghats. It is important to preserve and increase the forest cover of Kodagu to ensure the rejuvenation of Cauvery," he added.