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State asks tribunal to dismiss plea

By J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI, FEB. 21. Even as the Tamil Nadu Government today concluded its arguments before the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, Karnataka sought the dismissal of Tamil Nadu's petition to allocate 562 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water as its share on the basis of equitable distribution.

Tamil Nadu's stand

Appearing for Karnataka, senior counsel Fali S. Nariman submitted before the tribunal comprising its Chairman, Justice N.P. Singh, and the members N.S. Rao and Sudhir Narain that it has been the consistent stand of Tamil Nadu that the 1924 agreement between the two States is binding and that the equitable distribution of water must be done on this basis.

He said, "If the 1924 agreement is binding and enforceable, the tribunal may enforce it. Then the question of going into the issue of equitable distribution of water does not arise. If the 1924 agreement is not binding, then also the question of going into this issue does not arise because Tamil Nadu has not pleaded either in the complaint of May 6, 1986 or the statement of the case in 1991 for equitable apportionment de hors (excluding) the agreement of 1924."

Not in force

Mr. Nariman submitted that the 1924 agreement was not at all in force as per the findings of the Supreme Court, and therefore, there is no need for the tribunal to go into this issue at all. To a question from the tribunal as to "what we should do," Mr. Nariman said it could dismiss Tamil Nadu's complaint. But it was up to the tribunal to decide, he added.

Concluded

Earlier senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan, appearing for Tamil Nadu, concluded his arguments by asserting that the agreements of 1892 and 1924 continued to be valid and should form the basis for the apportioning of waters. Citing several U.S. case laws, he said the existing irrigation should be protected before any new abstraction is permitted in the upper reaches.

It has been Tamil Nadu's contention that all the ongoing projects in Karnataka are without the concurrence of the riparian States and without the approval of the Union Government.

These projects are in utter violation of the two binding agreements and in disregard to the principles of equitable apportioning of water. Karnataka, through various projects, wants to utilise the entire yield at the respective dam sites so that no water will flow to the main river to meet the irrigation needs (of Tamil Nadu). It has not framed any rules for the operation of its reservoirs, according to the Tamil Nadu Government.

Arguments to continue

Tamil Nadu, in over 400 days of hearing during the past 14 years, filed 18 volumes of documents before the tribunal running to about 3,000 pages; 10 volumes of technical information; exhibits of 1,662 witness statements; 50 notes on submissions; 13 compilations of case laws and documents and 57 statements.

Further arguments will continue tomorrow.

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