Scheme for Sharing Cauvery Waters

May 16, 2018
8 months

What is the issue?

  • The draft scheme for sharing Cauvery Waters has been presented by the union government to the Supreme Court. 
  • It is now for the Cauvery basin States to quickly embrace the scheme to avoid further bickering and rioting.

What are the broad contours of the scheme?

  • The Centre has finally submitted a draft scheme in the Supreme Court for distribution of Cauvery waters among the riparian States.
  • While the centre has given no name for the scheme, it derives largely from the pronouncement of the 2007 Cauvery Tribunal’s.
  • It will be a two-tier structure, with an apex body charged with the power to ensure compliance, and a regulation committee that will monitor the flows.
  • The powers and functions of the authority are fairly comprehensive and its decisions are intended to be final and binding.
  • However, if any States is not cooperative, the authority has to seek the Centre’s help, and the Centre’s decision will be final in such a scenario.
  • The authority’s powers include apportionment, supervision of operations of reservoirs and regulation of water releases.

What are some concerns?

  • Final Say - The clause involving the central government’s envisioned role in case of non-compliance by any state is tricky.
  • While this has been envisioned to solve the problem, there is the possibility of the centre taking a partisan stand in the future due to political considerations.
  • Rather, strict compliance with the court’s allocated share of water at all times would be better, instead of leaving situations to the centre’s discretion. 
  • Differences - There are a few differences between the Cauvery Management Board envisaged by the Tribunal and the authority proposed in the scheme.
  • The Tribunal favoured the chairperson being an irrigation engineer with not less than 20 years of experience in water resources management.
  • But the present scheme envisions a senior engineer in water resources management or an officer in the rank of “Secretary” at the union level.
  • Similarly, the representatives from the four States would be administrators rather than engineers as proposed by the Tribunal.

How does the future look?

  • The Cauvery dispute has dragged on for several decades, and it would be unfortunate if the final decision isn’t implemented in letter and spirit.
  • All States should agree to the broad contours of this scheme and comply with the authority’s decisions.
  • If the proposed draft is implemented, then an issue concerning the livelihood of millions will be taken out of the sensationalist political domain.


Source: The Hindu

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