Welcoming the constitution of a Cauvery Water Management Authority (CMA) by the Centre, the Tamil Nadu government has hailed it as a “grand victory for the “Amma (Jayalalithaa) government” and the state’s farmers.
About the Cauvery Management Authority:
The authority would comprise a chairman, eight members besides a secretary. Out of eight members, two each will be full-time and part-time members, while the rest four would be part-time members from states.
The authority will exercise power and discharge such duty for “sufficient and expedient for securing compliance and implementation” of the Supreme Court order in relation to “storage, apportionment, regulation, and control of Cauvery waters”. It can also seek the help of the central government for implementation of the award and take appropriate action.
The authority will supervise the operation of reservoirs and with the regulation of water releases therefrom with the assistance of a regulation committee.
The authority will also look at the regulated release of water by Karnataka, at the inter-state contact point presently identified as Billigundulu gauge and discharge station, located on the common border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
The authority at the beginning of the water year (June 1 each year) would determine the total residual storage in the specified reservoirs.
The authority has also been tasked to advise the states to take suitable measures to improve water use efficiency, by way of promoting micro-irrigation (drip and sprinkler), change in cropping pattern, improved agronomic practices, system deficiency correction and command area development.
It has to also prepare an annual report covering the activities of the authority for the preceding year. The Centre will initially contribute a sum of Rs 2 crore for the functioning of the authority.
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.
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”.