The Supreme Court on Friday approved the central government’s draft Cauvery Management Scheme for distribution of water between the southern riparian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Puducherry.
The Supreme Court on Friday approved the central government’s draft Cauvery Management Scheme for distribution of water between the southern riparian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Puducherry. It also directed the Centre to implement the scheme before the monsoon session of Parliament after finding it in consonance with its February 16 judgment and also in conformity with Section 6A of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra rejected the suggestions of Karnataka and Kerala governments over the scheme, terming them as devoid of merits. It also dismissed Tamil Nadu’s plea as it found no point in pursuing a contempt action against the Centre for not framing the draft scheme within the deadline set by the apex court, saying the lapse was due to circumstances beyond the Centre’s control… the corrected draft scheme is in consonance with the dictum and directions in the Award as modified by this Court and also in conformity with Section 6A of the 1956 Act. The draft scheme ought to be taken forward to its logical end in accordance with law with utmost dispatch,” the apex court stated.
The changes proposed by the Supreme Court in the draft scheme included changing the name of a nine-member authority to board to ensure smooth water distribution, shifting of the headquarters to New Delhi and removing the clause that said the Centre’s decision is final.
The function of the authority will be to ensure effective implementation of the Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal’s order of 2007 along with modifications made to it by the apex court in February. This will involve determination of the total residual storage in various reservoirs on June 1 every year.
The authority will also take stock of the utilisation/releases and storage in the river basin every two months and assess the trend of inflows so as to authorise withdrawal of water to the states.
The Supreme Court had on May 8 summoned the Union water resources secretary with a draft scheme on implementation of its directions on the Cauvery water dispute. It had warned the Centre that it was in “sheer contempt” of its February 16 order which required it to frame the Cauvery management scheme on river water sharing between the four states.
Declaring the Cauvery river as a “national asset” and no single state can claim exclusive ownership of its water, the Supreme Court had on February 16 reduced its allocation of water to Tamil Nadu to 177.25 thousand million cubic feet (TMC), down from 192 TMC allocated by a tribunal in 2007.
Out of the total of 740 tmcft of water, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry would be annually entitled to 404.25 tmcft, 284.75 tmcft, 30 tmcft and 7 tmcft of Cauvery water, respectively. The new water sharing scheme would be applicable for the next 15 years.