The Supreme Court on Monday sought Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry's response to the draft scheme formulated by the Central government for the implementation of the 2007 Cauvery Water Tribunal award, which was a little modified and reaffirmed by the top court in February 2018.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud sought the response from the beneficiary states as Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said there were two areas where the Centre wanted the court's guidance that included the nomenclature of the authority to be set-up for the implementation of the tribunal award.
The court was informed that while Tamil Nadu favoured naming the authority as the Cauvery Management Board (CMB), Karnataka wants it to be named the Cauvery Decision Implementation Committee. The 2007 tribunal award had recommended naming the authority as CMB.
Seeking the "guidance/directions" of the court, the Centre had described it as a "very sensitive issue in both states".
The proposed authority is empowered with "securing compliance and implementation" of the final decision of the 2007 award as modified by the top court by its February 16, 2018 judgment.
The proposed authority will be assisted by the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) in discharging its functions.
The Centre will be the final arbiter and its decision will be "final and binding" in case the authority finds that any of the four states is not co-operating in implementing the decision/directions of the tribunal.
The authority shall comply with any other directions that the Central government may issue from time to time.
The proposed authority, which will be headed by a Chairman, will have eight members -- two whole time, two part-time and four part-time members from the states.
The Chairman will have a term of five years or till 65 years of age, whichever is earlier.
The Chairman will be either a senior and eminent engineer or an IAS officer of the rank of Secretary or Additional Secretary. In either case, they will have experience in water resource management and handling of inter-state water sharing issues.
The authority's functions would include "storage, apportionment, regulation and control" of the Cauvery water, supervising the operation of reservoirs and the regulation of water releases. On this aspect it will be assisted by the CWRC.
The proposed authority will also regulate the release of water by Karnataka at the inter-state contact point at Billigundulu gauge and discharge station located on the common border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
The authority through the CWRC and with the help of the Central Water Commission (CWC) and other Centre/state organisations will identify situations of distress in the basin.
Distress caused by the diminution of water flows during the period will be shared by party states after the distress conditions and their extent is determined by the authority.
In case of deficiency in the availability of water during any month as reported by the Regulation Committee, the authority will consider reduction in the indent of the parties in proportion to the quantities allocated to each state under the tribunal award as modified by the top court.
It will maintain an account of the cropping pattern, area cropped and area irrigated by each of the states.
The court directed the next hearing on Wednesday when it would examine the scheme in the light of the states' response.
Despite prodding by the apex court, the Centre delayed its response till after the Assembly elections in Karnataka.
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