• The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the Centre three months to constitute an Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal to resolve the dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over constructions in Pennaiyar river.
  • Tamil Nadu had filed an original suit in 2018 against Karnataka’s work on check dams and diversions’ structures in the river.
  • Tamil Nadu told the Supreme Court that Karnataka had no right to utilise the waters of the Pennaiyar to the detriment of the people of Tamil Nadu. The flowing water of an Inter-State river was a national asset, and no single State can claim exclusive ownership of it, Tamil Nadu said.
  • In a previous hearing, the Centre had stated that Tamil Nadu’s complaint was referred to a Negotiation Committee, and there was “no likelihood of settlement by negotiation”.
  • The Union government had submitted that it was “likely to constitute a Tribunal to resolve the dispute between the two States”.
  • Tamil Nadu argued that a 1892 agreement over the river water was “valid and binding” on the party States.
  • Tamil Nadu said that “Karnataka, without furnishing the details of its new diversions or new schemes or projects and obtaining the consent of the lower riparian State, should not suomotu proceed to construct check dams/pump directly from the river or from the tanks draining into the river, which would clearly amount to an infringement of the rights of the inhabitants of the Plaintiff State (Tamil Nadu)”.
  • Tamil Nadu said a river includes even the tributaries and streams contributing water directly or indirectly into it.
  • “Thus, the major tributary, Markandeyanadhi, which has its catchment area both in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, cannot be considered to be out of the purview of the agreement, and hence, any new construction obstructing the flow of Markandeya river is governed and controlled by the 1892 agreement,” It argued.
  • Tamil Nadu said Karnataka’s stand that it was free to construct any diversion structure or large dams across Markandeya river was wholly untenable.
  • “The Markandeya river is to be construed as an Inter-State river, and hence, the 1st Defendant State (Karnataka) cannot suomotu construct a large dam just upstream of the Karnataka – Tamil Nadu border, which results in obstructing the flows due to Tamil Nadu,” the State said.


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