Centre studying two models for Cauvery water sharing

Looks at working of Bhakra Board, Narmada Control Authority

With the apex court on February 16 asking the Centre to set up a scheme to implement its order on allocation of Cauvery water among riparian states within six weeks, the Centre is studying two models - Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) and the Narmada Control Authority (NCA).

All the Cauvery basin states are suggesting the Centre to allow the respective states to maintain physical assets such as dams and that the scheme should only monitor the release of water from upper riparian states to lower riparian states. The Union Ministry of Water Resources will prepare a structure of the scheme after taking the views from the states, Ministry Secretary U P Singh told DH.

The BBMB is engaged in regulation of water and power supply from the Bhakra Nangal and Beas projects to Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Chandigarh. The NCA is a body with representatives from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and the Centre.

Both the models are slightly different from each other. The BBMB has taken over the assets such as reservoirs whereas, under the NCA model, the assets continue to be with the respective state governments, but the responsibility of regulation, release and supervision is with the NCA, Singh said.

The Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal had, in the 2007 award, recommended setting up a Cauvery Management Board (CMB) with a chairman, who would be an officer of the chief engineer's rank (with 20 years of experience). The tribunal had said there would be two members (chief engineers with 15 years of experience each) - one from the agriculture department and the other from the water resources department - and a board secretary.

They would be full-time members, the tribunal had said and recommended two part-time engineers from the central government, of the rank of chief engineer, and a commissioner. The four states would also have representations through part-time members, it had recommended.

"After taking the views from the states, the Centre will prepare a draft of the scheme and place it before the meeting of the chief ministers of basin states for final approval, he said, adding that the chief ministers' meeting would be convened after the ministry finalises the draft.

The Supreme Court had, on February 16, increased the 270 tmcft share of Cauvery water for Karnataka by 14.75 tmcft and reduced Tamil Nadu's share, while compensating the latter by allowing extraction of 10 tmcft groundwater from the river basin, saying the issue of drinking water had to be placed on a "higher pedestal".

By virtue of the apex court verdict, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry would be annually entitled to 404.25 tmcft, 284.75 tmcft, 30 tmcft and 7 tmcft of Cauvery water respectively out of a total of 740 tmcft.

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