The Centre, which faced flak over delaying the filing of the draft Cauvery management scheme, today submitted it for approval in the Supreme Court to ensure smooth water distribution among the four southern riparian states.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, which on May 8 had summoned the Secretary of Union Water Resources Ministry to bring with him the draft scheme, took on record the draft and said it would examine the scheme on May 16.
"We need to examine whether the said scheme is in consonance with our (February 16) judgment," the bench, which also comprised Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.
"We will not go into the correctness of the scheme framed by the Centre but examine only one issue, as to whether the scheme conforms to the judgment or not," it said.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre which was accused by the bench of committing "sheer contempt", said the government was facing a dilemma regarding the name to be given to the body, sought to be created by the scheme dealing with the task of supervising the sharing of Cauvery water as per the apex court's judgement.
The apex court had in its February verdict asked the Centre to frame the Cauvery management scheme, which also included creating the Cauvery Managament Board, within six weeks for release of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
Venugopal said the Centre has been facing dilemma whether to call the supervising body "a Board, an Authority or a Committee" and urged that the court may decide on it.
The top court had on May 8 summoned the secretary of the Union Water Resources Ministry to appear before it with the draft scheme and had warned the Centre it was in "sheer contempt" of the February 16 verdict as it had till then not framed the Cauvery management scheme.
Earlier, the court was irked when the Centre had sought time on the ground that the Union Cabinet was not able to meet to approve the draft scheme as the leaders, including the Prime Minister, were busy in the campaign for assembly polls in Karnataka, which were held on May 12.
The bench had said Cauvery Management Scheme, once finalised, would deal with the issue of water share of the four states in different circumstances like normal and deficient water years in the Cauvery river basin. The apex court had on February 16 asked the Centre to formulate the scheme to ensure compliance of its judgement on the decades-old Cauvery dispute.
It had modified the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) award of 2007 and made it clear that it will not be extending time for this on any ground.
The top court had then 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".
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