Special Correspondent

Democratic People's Alliance MPs from Tamil Nadu submit memorandum to him

NEW DELHI: Members of Parliament belonging to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led Democratic People's Alliance in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and urged him not to accept the plea of the Karnataka Government and MPs from that State to not notify the final award of the Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal.

In a memorandum, the MPs emphasised that a Tribunal order was equivalent to a Supreme Court decree. The plea to not notify the award went against the legal processes contemplated under the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act.

"Such a request is not in conformity with the highest standards of traditions expected of MPs in upholding the Constitution... Such representations by MPs are not in accordance with the oath of office taken by them. They are also expected to abide by the Constitution and the laws of the land."

The MPs complained that right from the beginning, Karnataka had been adopting an obstructionist attitude in arriving at a settlement on the dispute. Tamil Nadu had requested the matter to be referred to the Tribunal only after failing to arrive at a consensus during mutual discussions.

Pointing out that 38 rounds of talks were held before the matter was referred to the Tribunal, the delegation alleged that in the absence of any valid grounds, the Karnataka Government had been resorting to extra-constitutional methods to nullify pronouncements made by judicial fora and legally constituted machinery on sharing of the river waters and trying to create a sense of insecurity in the minds of Tamils.

The delegation said As soon as the CWDT gave its award, Karnataka created a law and order situation and started requesting the Centre repeatedly to not notify it. "Thus, the Government of Karnataka has deliberately resorted to dilatory tactics with a view to avoid the adjudication and implementation of the award of the Tribunal."

The memorandum recalled that even when the Tribunal gave its interim award on June 25, 1991, Karnataka promulgated an Ordinance to utilise the entire quantum of the Cauvery waters.

It was struck down by the Supreme Court as ultra vires the Constitution on a reference made by the President, invoking advisory jurisdiction under Article 143 of Constitution.

The MPs charged that Karnataka had been building reservoirs across the main tributaries of the Cauvery and constructing unsanctioned and unapproved irrigation projects. Consequently, it had been cutting back on releases to Tamil Nadu from its reservoirs until they were full, near-full or threatened by floods. As a result, the irrigated area in that State had been gradually increasing over the years while the age old cultivated areas in Tamil Nadu dwindled. "The economy and livelihood of farmers in Tamil Nadu were shattered in the past three decades."

Stand opposed

The delegation also opposed the stand of Karnataka that the notification of the final award should await finalisation of a comprehensive national water policy.

It said a Tribunal with senior members of judiciary should not be fettered with pre-conceived notions in the form of guidelines.

"To suggest that a Tribunal award should not be implemented on this score is another way of negating the very purpose of legal resolution of the disputes and amounts to showing disrespect for the law [Inter-State River Water Disputes Act] made by Parliament."

[A delegation of Karnataka MPs led by former Prime Minister Deve Gowda had called on Prime Minister recently and urged that the award should not be notified in its present form on the ground that it had done grave injustice to Karnataka. The MPs had also called upon the Centre to arrange for discussions among the riparian States of the Cauvery to sort out the differences over the award so that it was altered to the satisfaction of all stakeholders].