To implement Tribunal order during irrigation season commencing on June 1
In a big relief to Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre to constitute a Supervisory Committee with the Secretary, Union Ministry of Water Resources as Chairman and the Chief Secretaries of the States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry as Members to effectively implement the final order of the Cauvery Tribunal during the ensuing irrigation season commencing on June 1.
A Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and Kurian Joseph gave this direction after Additional Solicitor General Siddarth Luthra, appearing for the Centre, submitted that the proposal to constitute the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) as mandated in the February 5, 2007 final order of the Tribunal was under the active consideration of the government and that the constitution of a Supervisory Committee would be a pro-tem measure following the notification of the award in the Gazette on February 19.
The Bench, hearing an application from Tamil Nadu for a direction to the Centre to constitute the CMB and the CWRC, passed the order after hearing Additional Advocate General Guru Krishna Kumar for Tamil Nadu and senior counsel Fali Nariman for Karnataka.
The Bench in its order said in case of any doubt or difficulty, the Chairman of the Supervisory Committee or the parties concerned could seek directions from the court with notice to the three States and Union Territory of Puducherry. The Bench made it clear that this arrangement would be without prejudice to the rights of the parties in the pending appeals challenging the final award of the Tribunal.
Tamil Nadu in its application said, “The area and the extent of allocation made in the final award in February 2007 amongst the States from the dependable yield of 740 tmcft. determined by the Tribunal are: Kerala; 30 tmcft; Karnataka, 270 tmcft; Tamil Nadu, 419 tmcft; Union Territory of Puducherry, 7 Water requirement for environmental protection, 10 inevitable escapages into sea, 4. Of this, Karnataka should release every year 192 tmcft to Tamil Nadu from its reservoirs.
It said the Tribunal was of the view that there was a need for setting up an appropriate mechanism and recommended an independent machinery to implement its decision. It recommended the constitution of the CMB and the CWRC with the roles, functions, powers etc. It said the Centre was mandated to constitute the Board simultaneously with the gazette notification of the final award of the Tribunal dated February 19. Contending that no steps had been taken so far to constitute the Board and the CWRC, the State said it was filing the present application.
Tamil Nadu said the storage in the Mettur reservoir as on March 13 was only about 7 tmcft. Even with the anticipated inflows from March to May, the storage built up in the reservoir would not be adequate to open the reservoir on June 12 as per schedule. It was, therefore, essential to ensure flows as per stipulated releases …so that at least during 2013-14, the irrigation in delta “does not suffer for the second consecutive year which will seriously prejudice the farming community in the delta.”
It sought a direction to the Ministry of Water Resources for constituting the Cauvery Management Board so that the final award was implemented in letter and spirit by all the party States.