Karnataka, caught in a tricky situation over the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, will on Monday try to impress upon the Supreme Court that there is a severe shortage of water and fall in storage levels in its Cauvery basin reservoirs. It is expected to urge the court to despatch a fact-finding mission to assess the gravity of the situation.

A day after the Supreme Court urged the State to embrace the principle of “live and let live” and consider releasing more Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah called on State counsel Fali S. Nariman in New Delhi on Saturday to discuss various options.

As Tamil Nadu has submitted an application seeking the release of 50.52 tmcft of Cauvery water to save 40,000 acres of samba crop this season, the apex court is expected to hear the matter on Monday.

Karnataka’s legal team, which held discussions with the Chief Minister, the Water Resources Minister M.B. Patil and the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H.K. Patil, has decided to explain the ground realities by presenting facts and figures on the availability of water in four reservoirs.

The State is also expected to appeal to the Supreme Court to come out with a distress formula to be followed during deficit rainfall. Clause VII of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal says “in the case of the yield of the Cauvery basin in a distress year, the allocated shares shall be proportionately reduced among the States of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Union Territory of Pondicherry.”

Monsoon deficit

Taking into account the shortage of rains and the drinking water requirements of cities and towns in the Cauvery Basin, the State government maintained that it was difficult to follow the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal order this season. The southwest monsoon was deficit by 15 per cent as on September 3, 2016. The State had a deficit of 80 tmcft water in its four reservoirs.