The Cauvery dispute is back in limelight. Unlike in the past when Karnataka and Tamil Nadu fought over sharing the river water, the two are now engaged in an intense debate over the implementation mechanism for the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.
Ordinarily, there should not have been any issue over the implementation mechanism after the publication of the final order in the Union government gazette in February last year.
Tamil Nadu was prompt in urging the Centre to constitute immediately the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) but there was no tangible action. In May 2013, the Supreme Court directed the Union government to constitute a Supervisory Committee, which was meant to be a temporary arrangement.
An expert here wonders why Karnataka should be worried about the CMB and the CWRC, which have been envisaged by the Tribunal to be multidisciplinary bodies, drawing experts from different fields and officials of all States concerned.
At the apex level, the Board will have three whole-time persons — chairperson and two members, one for irrigation and the other for agriculture or agronomy.
The chairperson has to be an irrigation engineer of repute with not less than 20 years of experience in water resources management. There will be six part-time members, two of whom are nominees of the Union Ministries of Water Resources and Agriculture.
The remaining four part-time members will be one each from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry. The CWRC, to be set up by the Board, will have the CMB’s Irrigation Member as chief. It will have representatives of the Central Water Commission, the Meteorological Department and the Union Agriculture Ministry, apart from officials of the States. More importantly, eight reservoirs in the Cauvery Basin — Hemavathy, Harangi, Krishnarajasagar, Kabini (all in Karnataka), Mettur, Bhavanisagar, Amaravathy (all in Tamil Nadu) and Banasurasagar (in Kerala) — will have to be operated in an integrated manner by the States under the overall guidance of the CMB to meet water requirements of the riparian States and Puducherry, the expert points out, citing the Tribunal’s final order.
He adds that the proposed scheme has been designed in a fair manner and there is no need for any controversy.