NEW DELHI: The Cauvery waters are set to catch fire once again with the Supreme Court issuing a warning to Karnataka’s political leadership for defying its earlier orders even as the state’s political parties across the spectrum went into a huddle after the apex court stood by its earlier orders to release water to Tamil Nadu.
The Supreme Court on Friday witnessed dramatic moments when Karnataka’s lead lawyer and eminent jurist Fali Nariman said he was relinquishing his brief in this case since his client Karnataka had failed to obey the court’s earlier orders.
Earlier, the two-member bench, comprising Justice Dipak Mishrta and Justice UU Lalit, had taken Karnataka to task, saying it can’t keep quiet if the state kept defying the court’s orders. The SC congratulated Nariman for his stand.
In another setback to Karnataka, the SC also asked the Centre to set up a Cauvery Water Management Board by Tuesday. The state had been opposing setting up of the board fearing it will lose control of the dams in its own state.
Karnataka will now also have to release 6,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu from Saturday to Thursday.
Meanwhile, the state is bracing up for another round of protests in the Cauvery basin districts. Within hours of the SC verdict, angry farmers blocked the Bengaluru-Mysore highway, shouting slogans against the order and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who, the protestors alleged, failed to protect the interests of the state.
Earlier in the day, Karnataka once again told the SC that it was not in a position to release the water as all available water is kept for drinking purposes. It also told the SC that the state legislature had passed a unanimous resolution last Friday against releasing more water to TN.
Former advocate general of Karnataka Ashok Harnahalli said he was shocked by both by the SC verdict and Nariman’s move. “I think Karnataka is left with no other option, but to follow the SC orders,” he said.
Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda told CNN-News18 that he would not mind going on a fast unto death to defend the interests of Karnataka. He has also requested the people not to resort to violence. “Do we have any other option? After offering special prayers to my forefathers, I will take a call on fast unto death,” he said.
The main opposition party in the state, the BJP, which is facing the ire of public for not putting pressure on the Prime Minister Modi to resolve the issue, is trying to control the damage by urging the state government not to release the water.
State BJP president and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa has said that his party would stand by the state government and no water should be released. He has also opposed the constitution of the Cauvery Water Management Board.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who returned to Bengaluru after the SC order, has decided to convene an all-party meeting on Saturday evening to decide the future course of action. Before leaving for the airport, he said, “The decision is shocking. I can’t comment without consulting all stakeholders. We will see what best we can do to protect the interests of the state.”
According to his aides, the chief minister has decided to face contempt proceedings if the SC acts against the state. But legal experts are advising him against such a decision.