No clear-cut system has been finalised to follow CWDT order

The gazette notification of the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) by the Union government, despite the plea of an all-party delegation from Karnataka two days ago, has come as a rude shock to the State government and efforts are on to salvage some pride with the request for a favourable intervention from the Centre.

Informed sources here told The Hindu that there is no clear cut mechanism that has been finalised to regulate the water flow and to abide by the directions of the CWDT issued on February 5, 2007. It is another matter that the final award, following the gazette notification by the Centre, enjoys all the power as that of an order pronounced by the Supreme Court.

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar has made yet another representation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday that the implementation and enforcement mechanism should be finalised only after all the civil appeals pertaining to the final award of the CWDT, pending before the Supreme Court, are disposed of.

Interestingly, the notification issued on Tuesday does not spell out the mechanism, although the final award makes specific mention on the constitution of a Cauvery Management Board and a Cauvery Water Regulation Committee. Both the board and the regulation committee are expected to function under the direct charge of the Central Water Commission although they will comprise of representatives of all the four riparian States — Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the Puducherry.

It should be noted that under Section 6 (A) of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act of 1956, the Union government has to frame a scheme or schemes to give effect to the decision of a tribunal, and under each scheme an authority has to be also established largely aimed at the implementation of the award of a tribunal. Another added feature is that the constitution of such an authority and the schemes that it will oversee will have to be formulated through an Act of Parliament. It is in this sense that the ball is back in the court of the Union government and in particular the Prime Minister.

‘To be delayed’

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar told The Hindu that under the circumstances, “Karnataka is of the view that the constitution of the board will necessarily have to be delayed”. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured that the State government will be kept informed since we had urged that the final award should not be notified at the present juncture. “In the interregnum, the Cauvery River Authority and the Cauvery Monitoring Committee should continue to function as they have been in the past, particulary in the years of distress”.

Mr. Jagadish Shettar said the final award has been notified obviously due to the order of the Supreme Court wherein February 20 was given as the deadline. “What should not have happened has happened. We did our best and will continue to do so to work in the interests of the farmers of the State”.

All the Cauvery riparian States have challenged the final award of the CWDT and have also submitted clarificatory petitions before the CWDT which incidentally is yet to be reconstituted. The Supreme Court has categorically assured that the notification of the final award will be without any prejudice to any State.