New Delhi: The centre on Monday proposed, in its draft scheme for sharing of Cauvery water between four southern states , setting up of a nine-member authority to ensure smooth water distribution.
The draft scheme, which was submitted before the Supreme Court on Monday, will be shared with Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to gauge if the scheme is in consonance with the apex courts directions. Thereafter, the scheme will need to be approved by the apex court.
The proposal comes a day before results for the just concluded Karnataka assembly polls are to be announced. “It is a great betrayal by the BJP at the centre," Karnataka water resources minister and Congress leader M.B. Patil said. Patil said that the Union government had put Karnataka “in a spot" and hardly left any scope to challenge the contentious decision. Patil said that the centre betrayed the state after elections were over.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra made it clear that it would not go into the legality of the scheme.
The function of the authority will be to ensure effective implementation of tribunals 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 1 June every year.
The authority will also take stock of the utilization/releases and storage in the river basin every two months and assess the trend of inflows so as to authorize withdrawal of water to the states.
On 16 February, the court asked Karnataka to release 177.25tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu as against an earlier quantum of 192tmcft. The new water sharing scheme would be applicable for the next 15 years. The court had also directed the central government to constitute the Cauvery Water Management Board within six weeks to supervise implementation of the order.
The Cauvery water dispute is more than 150 years old and has its origins in the 1894 and 1924 agreements for water sharing between then presidency states of Madras and Mysore. These agreements will remain in force despite the fact that the Reorganization Act, 1956, has taken effect, the order stated.
The judgment was passed on a batch of appeals by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, challenging the 2007 award passed by the Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal which determined the utilizable quantum of water in the Cauvery at 740 tmcft.
The award had made an annual allocation of 419 tmcft to Tamil Nadu in the entire Cauvery basin, 270 tmcft to Karnataka, 30 tmcft to Kerala, and 7 tmcft to Puducherry. It was notified by the government in 2013. Out of the 419 tmcft allocated to Tamil Nadu, 192 tmcft would be supplied by Karnataka.
The matter will be heard next on 16 May.