'Sheer contempt': SC on Centre's delay over framing Cauvery scheme

Clay Curtis
May 9, 2018

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Secretary of Union Water Resources Ministry to appear before it on May 14 with the draft of the Cauvery Management Scheme in order to implement its verdict on haring water between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and two other states.

"We do not want to come back to square one". And yet, this is what was stated brazenly by the Centre to a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

In February, the apex court asked the Centre to formulate a scheme to ensure compliance of its judgement on the decades-old Cauvery dispute.

In response, the Karnataka government on Monday filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court which stated that despite scanty rainfall, Karnataka had released an increased amount of 116.7 tmcft of water as opposed to the required 100.4 tmcft. However, the Centre failed to form the CMB within given time frame.

The Karnataka Government earlier in the day filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in which it said that more water has been released to Tamil Nadu than alloted.

A flashpoint is already building over Karnataka's suggestion to pack the Cauvery Management Board or "scheme" with minister-politicians of the four states.

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Last week, the apex court had inquired about the status of the scheme with Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, who stated that the Cabinet was unable to meet due to the unavailability of the Prime Minister and the ongoing elections in Karnataka. "You are under obligation to implement the judgment", the CJI told the Centre.

Karnataka counsel V.N.Raghupati told IANS that Tamil Nadu has already been given water they were entitled to under the distress formula and that Tamil Nadu has been given more water then it was entitled to in a distress year.

Venugopal had sought six days' time from the court o grounds of the Karnataka assembly election that is scheduled to be held on May 12. Following this, on April 9, the top court asked the Centre to frame a draft scheme by May 3. "It's your duty to implement the scheme". How much water problem is being faced by which state, only the authority can decide it.

However, the court did not mention the 4 TMC ft of water to be released to TN.

SC had earlier modified the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal award of 2007.

The apex court 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".

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