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No single state can claim exclusive right over its waters: SC

By Vicky

No single state can claim exclusive ownership over its water, the Supreme Court held while giving out the verdict in the Cauvery Waters Case. The 465 page verdict deals with a variety of issues and in its final verdict the court awarded Karnataka an additional 14.75 tmcft of water.

No single state can claim exclusive right over its waters: SC

On the issue of rivers, the court cited the Cauvery Waters Tribunal's verdict. It said, "the Tribunal in its approach primarily referred to Helsinki Rules, 1966 which rejected the Harmon doctrine and laid stress on equitable utilization of international rivers.

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We are of the opinion that the Tribunal was correct in its approach. For determining reasonable and equitable shares, relevant factors have to be considered together, in reaching a conclusion. Keeping in view the various intricacies involved in the case at hand and the duty ordained upon this Court by the Constitution of India, the matter deserved to be adjudicated on the bedrock of equal status of the states and doctrine of equitability. Resultantly, the submission that the complaint of the State of Tamil Nadu did not warrant any adjudication, does not commend any acceptation.

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Waters of an inter-state river passing through corridors of the riparian states constitute a national asset and no single State can claim exclusive ownership of its water. In this context, the principle of equitable apportionment internationally recognized by the Helsinki Rules, Compione Rules and Berlin Rules which have also been incorporated in the 1987 to 2002 National Water Policies, have been regarded to be the guiding factor for resolving disputes qua apportionment of water of an inter-state river, the Supreme Court also said.

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