Tearing into Karnataka for treating the Supreme Court orders on release of Cauvery water with “utter contempt”, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa Thursday said such “deliberate defiance” goes against the spirit of the Constitution and amounts to “contempt” of the Court. In her speech, read out by Chief Secretary P Ramamohana Rao, at the meeting of the Chief Ministers of two states convened by the Water Resources Ministry, she said her state has “scrupulously” adhered to every Apex Court order.
“By contrast, the State of Karnataka has treated the orders of the Honourable Supreme Court with utter contempt. Successive orders of the Honourable Supreme Court have been deliberately and systematically defied,” by the neighbouring state, she said.
Jayalalithaa, recuperating at a corporate hospital here, said she could not attend the meeting as she was hospitalised.
She said she participated in the discussions “with the hope Tamil Nadu would get its legitimate share in Cauvery water”.
The Chief Minister said that as of August 31, 2016, Tamil Nadu had a shortfall of 60.983 tmc ft of water as per the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.
It was in this context of such a “huge shortfall” and with the intention of saving at least a single samba crop in the Cauvery delta that her state was “forced” to approach the Supreme Court for interim directions, she said.
She recalled the Apex Court directions to Karnataka to initially release 15,000 cusecs and later modify it to 12,000 cusecs per day up to September 20, totalling 17.366 tmc ft.
“But “Karnataka failed to release the requisite quantity of water,” she said.
The Apex Court had later modified the quantum of water to be released to 6,000 cusecs, she said.
“In utter disregard and in complete contempt of the orders of the Honourable Supreme Court, Karnataka failed to release the stipulated quantity of water to Tamil Nadu and in addition, failed to make good the shortfall,” as per its earlier orders, she said.
“This deliberate defiance goes against the spirit of the Constitution itself and amounts to contempt of the Apex Court. Karnataka has not followed the orders of the Honourable Supreme Court and has on the other hand permitted unruly elements to create law and order issues,” she said.
Jayalalithaa said it “is very unfortunate” that not only was water not released as stipulated, but ever since Supreme Court gave its first interim directions on September 5, “an orchestrated spate of arson and violence was unleashed, directed at Tamils living in Karnataka”.
She said many large and small properties and establishments owned by Tamils were systematically targeted, ransacked and burnt.
Also a large number of vehicles bearing Tamil Nadu registration number plates were burnt and vandalised.
“Tamils had been persecuted and attacked with impunity by frenzied mobs with little or no effective restraint or action by the Karnataka authorities. We are led to believe that many of these instances of mob violence were deliberately fanned by various political formations and high level instigators charged with maintaining law and order, who watched the incidents with glee,” she charged.
“In contrast”, her government ensured law and order was “maintained” in Tamil Nadu and no “person from Karnataka or institutions, commercial establishments, educational bodies, properties belonging to persons from Karnataka were affected in Tamil Nadu in any way,” she said.
“Absolute restraint was observed by all sections in Tamil Nadu, including farmers. Even one or two very minor incidents were acted on promptly, cases registered and the miscreants arrested. On the other hand, in Karnataka the situation was grave,” she said.
She recalled that in 1991 the Tribunal had issued interim order on water release, but Karnataka did not honour it and had promulgated an ordinance nullifying it.
The Supreme Court had, however, struck it down, she said.
“Even in 1991, when the interim order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal was passed, a reign of terror was unleashed and Tamils in Karnataka were targeted.
“Tamil people living in Karnataka have been living in fear whenever Tamil Nadu has claimed its rightful share of water in judicial forums, though all judicial forums have seen merit and justice in our case,” she said.
Jayalalithaa said Karnataka never honoured the Tribunal’s interim order and had only allowed surplus waters which its reservoirs could not hold, to flow to Tamil Nadu.
Jayalalithaa said the tribunal allocated 419 TMC ft. of water to Tamil Nadu, of which an annual quantity of 192 TMC ft. has to be ensured at the Inter-State border.
“But this quantum was far below the actual requirement of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka has not released that in any of the years except when its reservoirs could not hold the surplus flows,” she said.
She recalled her “vigorous and spirited efforts to get the Tribunal’s final order notified,” which was done in 2013 following a Supreme Court direction to the Centre.
She said it must not be forgotten the final order now has the status of a Supreme Court decree and therefore is law of the land and mandates formation of Cauvery Management Board.
She urged the forum to recognise Karnataka’s pattern of “arrogating” to itself waters of the inter-State Cauvery river “in defiance” of the Apex Court.
She recalled the court’s observation in 1991 that though the inter-State river pass through territories of riparian states, such waters cannot be said to be located in any one state.
Tamil Nadu is a lower riparian state with long established irrigation systems based on unhindered water flow in Cauvery river. But agricultural patterns had been adversely affected by systematic actions by Karnataka to deprive Tamil Nadu of its legitimate share of water, she said.
The state “had no option” but knock the SC’s doors for water release after its pleas to Karnataka and to the Centre “fell on deaf ears”, she said.
“The Honourable Supreme Court has been very magnanimous in its latest directions to direct that a meeting may be held at the level of Executive Heads of the two State Governments to find a way out of the present impasse.
“However, as Karnataka continues to take a defiant stance, I wonder whether the meeting would serve its intended purpose unless Karnataka can be prevailed upon to honour the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s directions,” she said.
Stating that Tamil Nadu is in dire need of water,she said that in the spirit of the Supreme Court order, she was urging Government of India to ensure Karnataka complies and releases water to Tamil Nadu forthwith.
They should also release the stipulated quantity of water as per the Tribunal’s final order, including backlog of 76.042 TMC ft, she said.