For effective implementation of final award

Having passed through the stage of notification of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal’s final award, the State government is going to seek immediate establishment of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) for effective implementation of the award.

The CMB will form part of a scheme that has to be framed by the Union government. The Tribunal, in the final award given in February 2007, suggested the creation of the CMB and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee.

The need for early formation of the CMB is imminent with only a few months to go for the water year to begin. As the final report has been notified, the Cauvery River Authority and Monitoring Committee, the institutions set up for the interim award, cease to exist. Without an implementation mechanism in place, the final award, to quote the Tribunal’s words, “would only remain on a piece of paper.”

Modelled on the lines of Bhakra Beas Management Board, the CMB will have representatives of the governments of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry, apart from nominees of the Union Ministries of Agriculture and Water Resources. There will be three whole-time members. The CWRC will also have representatives of several departments of the Union government and the Basin States. Eight reservoirs including four in Karnataka, three in Tamil Nadu and one in Kerala will have to be operated in an integrated manner by the States under the overall guidance of the CMB.

Sources in the government say that till the formation of the CMB, the Central Water Commission should monitor the situation and take appropriate steps.

The government is particular that Karnataka should not be allowed to use flows during summer and in support of their contention, the sources refer to one of the clauses in the final order which states that there has to be an effective storage of a minimum of three thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft) in all the reservoirs on June 1 [the first day of water year] including the storage of water carried over from the previous water year, the sources say, adding that irrigation season for the Cauvery Basin is from June to January.

As for the stipulation under the Inter State Water Disputes Act that the scheme has to be placed on the floor of Parliament, the sources say that according to one school of thought, there is no need for doing so as the Tribunal, in its final award, referred to the legal position that once notified, the decision of the Tribunal acquired the same force as an order or a decree of the Supreme Court. That being so, how could the part of the decision relating to the framing of the scheme be considered by the Parliament for modification or otherwise, the Tribunal wondered, adding that such a situation might create an “anomalous situation.”

It also noted that the order or decree of the Supreme Court could not be examined for modification by both Houses of Parliament.