The Centre had in its plea sought three more months to formulate a scheme to distribute water citing assembly elections in Karnataka.
The Supreme Court today pulled up the Centre for not adhering to its order to formulate a ‘scheme’ to divide the water of Cauvery river among Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry. The apex court bench of CJI Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud said that the Centre is bound to implement its Cauvery order and declined its plea for deferring the issue by three months.
“You must show your bonafide that you will frame a scheme to respect the top court order for the distribution of water,” the court observed as it asked the Centre to draft the scheme by May 3.
The court asked Attorney general KK Venugopal, who was arguing on behalf of the Centre, to file scheme as ordered by it in its previous judgement.
The court said the authorities are required to ensure peace till it peruses the draft scheme and finalises it for proper distribution of Cauvery water.
The apex court, in its verdict, had asked the Centre to formulate a ‘scheme’ to ensure compliance of its 465-page judgement on the decades-old Cauvery dispute. It had modified the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) award of 2007 and made it clear that it will not be extending time for this on any ground.
Senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu government, told the court that “your order was so clear that even a person having an elementary knowledge of English could understand it. But for reasons better known to Union of India, only they can’t understand it.”
The SC’s deadline had expired on March 29. After this, the Centre had filed a plea in the SC seeking three more months to formulate a formula to distribute water citing assembly elections in Karnataka. The government had also sought clarification on its order saying states have different views on the matter and thus they can contest Centre’s formula.
The court had on February 16 raised the 270 tmcft share of Cauvery water for Karnataka by 14.75 tmcft and reduced Tamil Nadu’s share, while compensating it by allowing extraction of 10 tmcft groundwater from the river basin, saying the issue of drinking water has to be placed on a “higher pedestal”. With the apex court’s verdict, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry would be annually entitled to 404.25 tmcft, 284.75 tmcft, 30 tmcft and 7 tmcft of Cauvery water respectively out of the total of 740 tmcft.