SC assures TN its share of Cauvery water

The Supreme Court on Monday assured Tamil Nadu that it will get its due share of Cauvery river water.

The apex court agreed to hear a plea by the state for contempt action against the Centre for "willful disobedience" of the February 16 court judgement to put in place a scheme within six weeks to ensure allocation of water among the states.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra put the application filed by Tamil Nadu for consideration on April 9 on an urgent hearing plea made by advocate G Umapathy on behalf of Tamil Nadu.

The counsel contended that the Centre did not act on "framing of the scheme" as per the decision of the apex court.

He pointed out that the Cauvery Management Board and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee could not be constituted by March 30, the time frame fixed by the court.

On this, the CJI, presiding over the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, orally observed that the term "scheme" used in the judgement does not mean Cauvery Management Board only.

This means that whatever be the nomenclature of the implementing authority, the judgement giving every interested state its due share of the river water has to be complied with, he said.

On Saturday, the Centre had filed a plea before the court seeking three more months to implement the judgement on the distribution of Cauvery river water, saying framing a scheme after the announcement of Karnataka Assembly election schedule may create massive public outrage as it was an emotive issue.

In its application, Tamil Nadu, for its part, sought contempt action against Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha and Water Resources Secretary U P Singh.

The apex court had on February 16 directed for additional intake of 14.75 tmcft for Karnataka by reducing the overall quantum of water for Tamil Nadu.

The top court had upheld the principles adopted by the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal in its decision on February 5, 2007, over the distribution and allocation of water among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

"In the absence of any cogent reasons in not constituting Cauvery Management Board and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee within the time frame and not taking any substantial step amounts to wilful disobedience of the judgement of this court," Tamil Nadu had said.

Ensuring timely release of water is apparent in the judgement and any delay would prejudice farmers of the state, Tamil Nadu contended.

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