The SC had granted a six-week time to the Centre to implement its order to formulate a scheme for dividing Cauvery river water among the state. In its order, the court had mentioned that no extension shall be granted for framing of the scheme on any ground.
In the midst of an uproar over Cauvery river water issue, Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday to apprise him of the strong feeling in the state over the need to constitute the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) as directed by the Supreme Court in February. The meeting took place in the backdrop of Tamil Nadu government filing a contempt plea in the apex court on March 31 against the Centre for not adhering to its February 16 order. The top court had in its order asked the Central government to come up with a ‘scheme’ within six weeks for dividing the Cauvery river water among Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu. But a day after the court’s March 29 deadline ended, the Centre moved the Supreme Court filing a clarification petition and seeking three months extra time to implement its judgement, citing assembly elections in Karnataka.
Here’s what all parties involved in the matter have to say:
The SC’s scheme
The court had granted a six-week time to the Centre to implement its order to formulate a scheme for dividing Cauvery river water among the state. In its order, the court had mentioned that no extension shall be granted for framing of the scheme on any ground.
Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal (CWDT) Mechanism
After taking note of Section 6A of the Inter-State River Water Dispute Act, 1956, the CWDT referred to the mechanism as ‘Cauvery Mangement Board’. It recommended that the CMB be constituted on the lines of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB). CWDT further recommended that CMB be entrusted with the function of supervision of the operation of reservoirs and the regulation of water released therefrom with the assistance of the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC). The CWRC is to be constituted by the Board.
What Centre said in its plea
The Centre filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking more clarification on its order. Besides, it sought an extension of three-month time to implement its order in view of the Assembly polls in Karnataka. The government argued that it had studied the functioning of BBMB and Narmada Control Authority (NCA). It said that while in the case of BBMB, operation, maintenance, regulation and control remains with the management board, the NCA only looks after the implementation of Tribunal award. The ownership, operation and maintenance of the structures lie with the respective states.
The Centre said that there are different views of the states over the formulation of scheme and states may again move the Supreme Court contesting the formula floated by the Union government, hence more clarification is needed on this.
What Karnataka says
The state said that court has left the contents of the scheme to the discretion of the Centre. It said Tamil Nadu’s argument that the CMB should be a part of the scheme is contrary to the mandate of the judgement and the law. The state is of the opinion that the SC has not endorsed or approved the CMB.
Tamil Nadu’s view
The AIADMK-ruled state feels the government has mandate to formulate the CMB and CWRC. The government through its contempt plea wants to exert pressure on the government to discharge its responsibility assigned by the SC. The plea said that “government was duty bounds to take step to facilitating implementation of the judgment…”
The Left-ruled state has suggested that the CMB should be headed by the Cabinet Secretary or the Union Secretary of Water Resources. Besides, the Board can have the Chief Secretaries of all the four parties as members. Kerala has also filed a review petition in the SC, pleading to pass an order allowing it to use 30 TMC ft of water allocated to it according to its own needs.
Puducherry has been allocated 7 TMC ft of water for Karaikal, a small coastal enclave which falls in the Tamil Nadu delta region. The Puducherry government had sought L-G Kiran Bedi’s nod to file a contempt plea against the Centre but the request was turned down.