New Delhi: The Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that the ‘scheme’ for sharing of Cauvery water among the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry has been finalized and would be submitted in 10 days after the Union Cabinet gives its nod for the scheme.
The Centre virtually cited Karnataka assembly polls on May 12 to delay the process and reiterated its earlier stand that notifying the constitution of Cauvery Management Board (CMB) or any other authority during the time of polls would lead to massive public outrage, create serious law and order problem and may vitiate the election process.
In its affidavit, the Centre said while the scheme was being finalized, Karnataka chief minister wrote a letter on April 26 suggesting that the authority should comprise of irrigation ministers of four states instead of officials. Subsequently, the scheme has been prepared which is being given a finishing touch. The scheme would be placed before this court in 10 days after obtaining approval from the Union Cabinet.
The Centre explained the steps it had taken pursuant to the February 16 judgment and said a meeting of chief secretaries was held in March and their views were obtained in writing. As there were divergent views, the scheme could not be finalized before May 3, which has now been made ready.
Meanwhile, Tamil nadu in its affidavit pleaded for a direction to Karnataka to release 4 tmcft of water to meet the drinking water requirements of the state. It referred to a statement made by Karnataka minister pursuant to the order passed by the apex court on May 3 that Karnataka cannot spare water to Tamil nadu. It is evident that Karnataka acts as a judge of its own cause and fails to comply with the binding order of the Tribunal as affirmed by this court.
Pointing out that framing a scheme as per the February 16 verdict is the only solution, Tamil Nadu said this court should direct the central government to frame a scheme providing for an implementation authority viz., the Cauvery Management Board and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee, without any further delay and place the same before the court. There cannot be any substitute to the machinery for the implementation of the final order of the tribunal.
On drinking water requirements, the state said that Karnataka has 19.834 tmc ft of water as on May 4, 2018 in its four reservoirs. (The effective storage is 9.834 tmc ft). The storage in Mettur Dam is 9.502 tmc ft (the utilizable storage being only 4.502 tmc ft). Thus, Karnataka is in a better position and can easily spare the 4 tmc ft as observed by the top court on May 3, even after meeting the requirement of drinking water supply for one month i.e. May, 2018 viz. 1.6 tmc ft.
Karnataka, however, maintained that the water year 2017-18 is a distress year in the Cauvery basin and that too for third time in a row. Applying the distress formula, Karnataka had released 116.697 tmc ft of water to Tamil Nadu as against the quantum of 11.04 tmc ft. Therefore the excess water of 16.66 tmc ft had been ensured. Even in March and April this year, the state had released 1.4 tmc ft (as against 1.24 tmc ft) and 1.10 tmc ft (as against 1.22 tmc ft). Therefore the state is not in default, Karnataka said and rejected the plea for release of 4 tmc ft of water.