New Delhi: The Supreme Court today agreed to hear a contempt plea of the Tamil Nadu government against the Centre for not constituting the Cauvery Management Board (CMB).
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud posted the matter for April 9. “We understand Tamil Nadu’s difficulty of not getting water. We will resolve the issue. List the matter for April 9,” the bench said. Tamil Nadu had sought contempt action against the Centre for “failure” to frame the scheme for constitution of the Cauvery Management Board and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee within six weeks, as directed by the apex court on February 16.
Tamil Nadu, in its contempt plea, said the Centre was bound to give effect to the judgement by framing a scheme so that the authorities of — Cauvery Management Board and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee — were put in place within six weeks. It said the authorities needed to be in place so that the decisions of the tribunal as modified by the apex court were implemented in accordance with the time schedule prescribed therein.
The Centre, meanwhile, in its petition had said that since there were divergent views between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on the constitution of the CMB, the apex court should clarify whether “it is open to the central government to frame the scheme under 6A at variance with the recommendations contained in the report of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal (CWDT) regarding the Cauvery Management Board”.
Karnataka has opposed the constitution of the CMB and sought some alternative mechanism to implement the verdict. The Union government also said that considering the overall sensitivity of the issues involved, the apex court may also clarify whether it had any flexibility in modifying the composition of the CMB to “a mixture of administrative and technical body” and “not purely a technical body” as recommended by the CWDT for effective conduct of the business of the board.
The apex court had on February 16 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”. With the apex court’s verdict, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry would be annually entitled to 404.25 tmcft, 284.75 tmcft, 30 tmcft and 7 tmcft of Cauvery water, respectively out of the total of 740 tmcft of water.
It had granted six weeks time to the Centre to formulate a scheme to ensure compliance of its 465-page judgement on the decades-old Cauvery dispute, and made it clear that it will no longer be extending time on the matter. The Supreme Court had also ruled that its verdict on the Cauvery water allocation will continue for the next 15 years.