The Tamil Nadu government insisted on Tuesday that the Supreme Court itself should finally appoint an authority and frame a scheme for sharing and management of Cauvery river waters among Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry, and not leave the responsibility to the Centre.
Arguing before a Special Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justices Amitava Roy and A.M. Khanwilkar, Tamil Nadu, represented by senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, said it has for the past 25 years had a frictional relationship with Karnataka over Cauvery, and had often to make the journey to the Supreme Court for release of water.
The day-long hearing saw the court chide the Centre for not implementing the final award of the Cauvery Tribunal in 2007.
The court questioned the reluctance shown by the Centre to set up of the Cauvery Management Board and frame a scheme for implementation of the tribunal award despite it having been notified in 2013.
“It was your responsibility to frame a scheme,” the court asked the Centre, appearing through Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar.
Mr. Kumar said the Centre did set up the Cauvery River Water Authority and Supervisory Committee following the Supreme Court’s direction. It had, in fact, been waiting for some clarifications on the tribunal award. Mr. Kumar submitted that the Centre had decided to wait till the Supreme Court took a final call on the tribunal award.
But Chief Justice Misra responded that the Centre should not have let a vacuum prevail after the tribunal’s award.
Senior advocate Fali Nariman, for Karnataka, submitted that the Board or Authority should be headed by a former Supreme Court judge. While Mr. Kumar submitted that the tribunal award was not clear about water release during times of distress, Mr. Nariman differed to say there was no clarity in the award in times of surplus.
Mr. Naphade objected to any fiddling with the monthly release of water as this would impact the State’s essential seasonal crops. Karnataka interjected to submit that there should not be any restriction on how it uses its share.
As carried in TH on 21/9/2017