Tuesday, Oct 01, 2002
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By Our Special Correspondent
A three-judge Bench, comprising the Chief Justice, B.N. Kirpal, Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and Justice Arijit Pasayat, which passed the order, asked the Centre to file a copy of the CMC's report in the court by October 4, when the matter would be taken up for further hearing.
The CMC, chaired by the Water Resources Secretary, A. K. Goswami, will visit the Mettur dam and the Thanjavur region tomorrow to do a spot assessment of the crop situation and the water level in the reservoir. It will meet in Chennai on October 2 and finalise its report.
The CMC, which has already visited the Karnataka reservoirs, was scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. here today.
However, in view of the Supreme Court's order, the meeting had been postponed and would be held in Chennai, Mr. Goswami told mediapersons. Even as the Additional Solicitor-General, Mukul Rohatgi, sought police protection for the team, senior counsel for Tamil Nadu, K. K. Venugopal, assured the court that the State would extend all cooperation to the team.
Earlier, when Mr. Rohatgi told the court that the CMC could not project the "ground realities'' in Tamil Nadu due to the lack of cooperation from the State, the Bench took a serious view and pulled up the CMC for not carrying out the Prime Minister's directive. Mr. Rohatgi said that the atmosphere was charged in both the States and that the CMC thought that without police protection, inspection could not be carried out.
The Bench, however, said "what the Prime Minister wanted from you was an independent assessment. You could have done the inspection even without the State's cooperation. They (the State) did not physically prevent you from entering the State. Are you so incapable of making a report? When you don't even stir out of office, how do you make a complete report?''
When the Bench wanted to know why Tamil Nadu had not allowed the team to visit Mettur, Mr. Venugopal said "we don't want the CRA's order to be revised.'' And that there had been a "serious violation" of the Supreme Court and the CRA directives to Karnataka to release 1.25 tmc ft water daily and 0.8 tmc ft water which amounted to contempt of court.
Senior counsel for Karnataka, Anil Divan, said that Tamil Nadu would have the benefit of the northeast monsoon during which the State would have 53 per cent precipitation. Therefore, any release of water at this stage would harm the standing crops in Karnataka.
Mr. Venugopal said that "at no point of time" had Karnataka released 1.25 tmc ft water to Tamil Nadu. Its approach had been to delay the release of water and avoid the contempt petition to render it infructuous.
When the Bench asked Mr. Venugopal "what can the court do when they don't implement either our order or the order of the CRA,'' he cited various instances when the court had ensured the implementation of its order. "Wait till Friday (and see) how we would implement our order,'' the Bench said and posted the case for further hearing.
The Bench also directed the Karnataka Chief Minister, S. M. Krishna, and four others, against whom the contempt notice was issued, to file their response by October 4.
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