The Supreme Court on Friday approved the Centre’s draft on the Cauvery Management Scheme drawn for smooth distribution of water among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. Meanwhile, the apex court rejected the suggestions of Karnataka and Kerala governments for the scheme, terming them as “devoid of merits”.
The SC bench said the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal’s award, which was modified by the apex court, has to be taken to the logical conclusion by the Cauvery Management Scheme. It also dismissed Tamil Nadu’s plea seeking initiation of contempt against the Centre for non-finalisation of Cauvery scheme.
The top court had yesterday reserved its order on finalising the Cauvery management scheme drawn up to implement its February 16 order on distribution of Cauvery river water among four riparian states.
Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General K K Venugopal had told the court that the government had modified the provision which empowered it to pass directions from time to time with regard to the distribution of water. The Tamil Nadu government had taken exception to the clause saying it was too wide and virtually gave the Centre the final say in all disputes. Agreeing to Tamil Nadu’s contention, the court had asked the Centre to make suitable changes.
Earlier, the apex court had red-flagged the provision empowering the Centre to issue the directions, saying “this part (power of Centre to issue directions) of the scheme is not in consonance with the judgement. We make it clear to you”. The observation was made after the Centre had submitted the draft Cauvery management scheme in the court for its approval.
The apex court, in its verdict delivered on February 16, had asked the Centre to frame the Cauvery management scheme, which also included creating the Cauvery Management Board, within six weeks for the release of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. The scheme, once finalised, would deal with the issue of water share of the four states in different circumstances like normal and deficient water years in the Cauvery river basin.
The top court had modified the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) award of 2007 and made it clear that it will not be extending the time for this on any ground.
It had 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 PTI inputs)