The Supreme Court ordered the Central government to implement its draft Cauvery Management Scheme after finding it in consonance with its February 16 judgment.
The court also found the draft scheme in conformity with Section 6A of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act.
The judgment, given by A.M. Khanwilkar, also found no point in pursuing a contempt action against the Centre for not framing the draft scheme within the deadline given in the February 16 judgment, saying the lapse was due to circumstances beyond the Centre’s grasp.
The apex court, in its verdict delivered on February 16, had asked the Centre to frame the Cauvery management scheme, including the creation of the Cauvery Management Board, for a release of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
Modifications made by the Court:
The top court had modified the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) award of 2007 and made it clear that it will not be extending the time for this on any ground.
It had raised the 270 tmcft share of Cauvery water for Karnataka by 14.75 tmcft and reduced Tamil Nadu’s share, while compensating it by allowing extraction of 10 tmcft groundwater from the river basin, saying the issue of drinking water has to be placed on a “higher pedestal”.
About the Cauvery Management Scheme:
The Cauvery water management scheme will deal with the release of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
It will be implemented by the Cauvery Management Authority (CMA). CMA will be the sole body to implement the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal award as modified by the apex court. The Centre would have no say in it except for issuing administrative advisories to it.
The dispute began with Karnataka’s demand of ‘equitable sharing of the waters’ after it expanded farming activities in the Cauvery basin. It claimed that the previous agreements, which happened between erstwhile Madras Presidency and Kingdom of Mysore in 1924, were highly skewed to what is present-day Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu used to get about 602 TMC of the total water, leaving only about 138 TMC for Karnataka.
About Cauvery River:
Cauvery River rises on Brahmagiri Hill of the Western Ghats in southwestern Karnataka state. It flows in a south-easterly direction for 475 miles through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Before emptying into the Bay of Bengal south of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, the river breaks into a large number of distributaries forming a wide delta called the “garden of southern India.” The river is important for its irrigation canal projects.
In the upper course, at the Krishnaraja Sagara, the Kaveri is joined by two tributaries, the Hemavati and Lakshmantirtha, where a dam was constructed for irrigation.
Upon entering Tamil Nadu, the Kaveri continues through a series of twisted wild gorges until it reaches Hogenakal Falls. There the Mettur Dam was construted for irrigation and hydel power.
The Cauvery’s main tributaries are the Kabani (Kabbani), Amaravati, Noyil, and Bhavani rivers.