A draft cabinet note detailing the structure of the Cauvery Management Board has been prepared by the Union Water Resources Ministry and is likely be circulated to other Ministries before being put up for clearance by the Union Cabinet.
According to a person privy to the process, the Board may have “extra members” to accommodate representations from States such as Karnataka and Kerala, who have expressed concerns over the constitution of the board in the last month.
The Cauvery Management Board, according to the 2007 order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, is to have three full-time and six part-time members, the latter including one from each of the riparian States of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
The Board to monitor the inflow of waters in the Cauvery basin and decide the quantum of water to be released to the States — will also have a Cauvery Water Regulation Committee to implement the Board’s decision. Karnataka has objected to the constitution of such a Board, saying the Supreme Court verdict only mentions a “scheme” and not a Board to take a call on matters of distribution.
At a meeting on March 9 at the Union Water Resources Ministry, representatives pushed for a ‘dispute resolution committee’ and consisting of several more members instead of the CMB.
In the absence of a CMB, Karnataka’s water authorities will decide on how much water gets released to downstream States.
Earlier this week, the Kerala government filed a review petition in the Supreme seeking greater discretion in transferring its share of Cauvery water and transferring it to other locations within the State.
The Supreme Court judgement requires that a CMB be in place by March 29. Subject to its formation, water is to be shared and used by every State only exactly as specified by the Court’s order. Multiple officials in the Water Ministry told The Hindu that they weren’t sure if the deadline would be met but a body would most certainly be in place before the monsoon.
The Supreme Court in a February 15 verdict on the Cauvery river water dispute , reduced the allocation of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu. Karnataka will now supply 177.25 tmcf instead of 192 tmcf — a reduction of 14.75 tmcf, from its Billigundlu site to Mettur dam in Tamil Nadu. Kerala and Puducherry had been awarded 30 tmcf and 7 tmcf respectively.