Centre submits Cauvery draft scheme in Supreme Court

The Hindu

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 Karnataka and Tamil Nadu will share 40% each of the administrative expenses of the authority, Kerala will contribute 15% and Puducherry 5%.

The Central government submitted a Cauvery draft water management scheme in the Supreme Court on Monday, a day before the counting of votes in the May 12 Karnataka Assembly elections.

Union Water Resources Secretary U.P. Singh, who was summoned by the court on May 8, was personally present in the courtroom with copies of the draft scheme.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, receiving the copies, made it clear that the court will not go into “neither the propriety nor the legality” of the scheme and did not want a second round of prolonged litigation among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala.
‘Centre open to any nomenclature’

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal informed the court that the Centre was open to any nomenclature for the implementing authority of the Cauvery Water Management Scheme, 2018. He said it could be “Board, Authority or Committee.” The authority would be a body corporate headquartered in Bengaluru.

Mr. Venugopal submitted that either the riparian States could be given copies and open the floor for debate on the scheme, or the court could direct otherwise, wherein, the Union Cabinet would finalise the draft scheme as per Section 6A of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act.

The draft said the chairman of the authority, to be appointed by the Centre, would have a proposed tenure of five years or till the age of 65, and that the person would be a senior eminent engineer with wide experience or an IAS officer.

The authority would have four part-time members from the States who are administrative secretaries in the water resources departments of the four States.

Reservoirs would be operated in an integrated manner under the overall guidance of the authority, said the scheme. In June every year, the authority would gauge the residual storage capacity of the reservoirs.
States to share administrative costs

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu would share 40% each of the administrative expenses of the chairman and members, and field organisation costs of the authority. Kerala would contribute 15% and Puducherry 5%.

The authority would monitor the storage, apportionment, regulation and control of the Cauvery waters. It shall supervise the operstion of reservoirs and with regulation of water releases with the assistance of a Regulation Committee.

Regulated release by Karnataka would be at the inter-State contact point presently idenitified as Biligundlu gauge and discharge station located on the common border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

If any State did not cooperate with the Cauvery Tribunal or Supreme Court’s February 16 judgment, the authority could approach the Centre, whose decision would be final and binding on the States.

The authority would also decide on the “distress formula” in water-sharing.

The court ordered the Centre to provide Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducheery with the draft scheme copies to check whether it is in conformity with the February 16 judgment.

The court scheduled the next hearing on May 16.

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