Editorial

A fresh deadline: on framing Cauvery scheme

The Centre cannot continue to evade its legal obligation to create a mechanism to implement the Supreme Court’s final verdict in the Cauvery dispute. This was the broad message conveyed by the court on Monday when it admonished the government for failing to frame a scheme within the six-week time limit given earlier. For the Centre, it was embarrassing to be asked to demonstrate its bona fides by submitting a draft scheme for the court’s consideration by May 3. The court’s frustration was evident, as the Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India was surprised and disappointed that the Centre had not put a scheme in place or sought an early clarification. It is obvious that a decree on the sharing of water requires a mechanism to give effect to it. It is an evasion of responsibility on the Centre’s part to set off a round of litigation just to determine the nature of such a mechanism. At the same time, it is easy to understand the reluctance of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre. It clearly fears that framing a scheme may adversely affect its prospects in Karnataka, which goes to the polls next month. In the conflict between duty and electoral considerations, the BJP has chosen the latter.

 

It is a matter of satisfaction that the apex court has indicated that it will pass a binding order soon. The Centre should redeem itself by complying with the latest order. Meanwhile, the ambiguity over whether ‘scheme’ refers to or differs from the ‘Cauvery Management Board’ envisaged in the Cauvery Tribunal’s order has caused great disquiet in Tamil Nadu. This raises the question whether the court should have allowed an element of ambiguity in its judgment by referring to a ‘scheme’, while not expressly modifying the portion of the Tribunal’s order that talks of a ‘Cauvery Management Board’ and a ‘Cauvery Water Regulation Committee’. This is why even the court’s appeal for peace has not assuaged sentiments in Tamil Nadu, where tempers are soaring in some quarters. Unfortunately, a fringe has taken centre stage, focussing almost their entire protest on the Indian Premier League tournament. As a political tactic, threatening a hugely popular cricket tournament is bound to attract national attention. If this is what some of the protestors wanted, then they have succeeded in their objective, even if this has come at the cost of some disruption. However, targeting the IPL is irrational. If the premise is that fun and entertainment are inappropriate in this time of crisis, why pick on one tournament alone? Moreover, IPL matches have nothing to do with the Cauvery dispute; more importantly, they have nothing to with either the Centre or the State. Choosing a soft target may bring high visibility, but it makes no sense to mix a serious inter-State dispute with sport and entertainment — certainly not in a disruptive and violent manner.

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Printable version | Nov 21, 2020 12:53:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/a-fresh-deadline/article23496002.ece

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