Cauvery: resolve issues amicably

It is unfortunate that the Centre has constituted the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) and the Cauvery Water Regulatory Committee (CWRC) without taking the views of the Karnataka government into consideration. The Centre decided to notify them as part of the water-sharing scheme proposed by the Supreme Court, but Karnataka is aggrieved that it was done without consulting the state. The state has protested against it and had initially refused to name its representatives to the Authority and the Committee but later did so, lest its interests be adversely affected by lack of participation in the proceedings. The committee now has representatives of all three states and a union territory — Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry — on it. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week and conveyed to him the state’s concerns on the matter. The state government had sought wider consultations and a discussion in parliament before the constitution of the authority, but the Centre went ahead with its decision. The central government had failed to frame a Cauvery management scheme within the time limit set by the court and sought an extension of time but did not utilise the time to formulate a scheme that is acceptable to all parties. 

The CWMA will be headquartered in Delhi and the CWRC will be based in Bengaluru. The committee is expected to assist the authority in implementing the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal award as modified by the Supreme Court. The CWMA will have the power to operate the reservoirs in the basin and even to determine the cropping patterns in the areas where the water is used for irrigation. The committee will also have the power to gauge water and check the levels every 10 days in the reservoirs and regulate the release of water to irrigation canals. These are intrusive powers and violative of the rights of the state. 

The Karnataka government has called an all-party meeting this week to discuss the matter. The state is also planning to study the technical issues involved in it and to explore the legal options available to it to challenge the Centre’s decision. It also plans to submit a detailed document on the Cauvery dispute to the Centre. The century-old dispute has been resolved with a final award of water-sharing by the Supreme Court. The operationalisation of the award should not give rise to any new dispute or confrontation. The chief minister has said the scheme has not been drafted in accordance with the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act. That must be resolved. The Centre should also respect federal principles in the design of such schemes.

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Cauvery: resolve issues amicably

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