Travesty of justice
The Modi government appears to have just burnt its fingers in the hot waters of Cauvery. The Supreme Court rightly pulled it up over inordinate delay in implementing its verdict in the Cauvery dispute. The historic judgement on February 16 brought to denouement a bitter 138-year-old internecine dispute among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu,
The Modi government appears to have just burnt its fingers in the hot waters of Cauvery. The Supreme Court rightly pulled it up over inordinate delay in implementing its verdict in the Cauvery dispute. The historic judgement on February 16 brought to denouement a bitter 138-year-old internecine dispute among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala, the first two being the main contenders.
Of the total 740 tmcft available water, SC enhanced Karnataka share to 284.75 tmcft from 270 tmcft, taking the needs of Bengaluru into account, while reducing Tamil Nadu share to 404.25 tmcft from 419 tmcft. Kerala and Puducherry have been allotted 30 tmcft and 7 tmcft respectively.
However, Tamil Nadu is allowed to extract up to 10 tmcft groundwater from the river basin. In deciding so, the court went by an overwhelming empirical data by various organisations and research studies, which proved beyond doubt availability of replenishable groundwater in the delta of Tamil Nadu.
But, politics waded into the issue again. They could not subvert the SC judgement, though, but could delay it, causing heart-burn in the Cauvery delta area. The result: Tamil Nadu MPs vociferously protested in Parliament, which led to complete washout of the second phase of Budget Session.
But, the Centre would not move. It has in fact been obligated to ensure a water-sharing system within six weeks of judgement; the delay surely implies it has on its mind coming assembly elections in Karnataka.
Cauvery Management Board, along with Cauvery Water Regulation Committee, has been envisaged as per the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal’s order of 2007 and the SC order too called for them. The deadline expired on March 29. Things have soured to such an extent that Tamil Nadu parties have given a call to obstruct PM’s programme in Chennai on April 12. Meanwhile, pro-Kannada outfits too called for a state bandh on the day.
Would there be such bad vibes between the two states, had the Centre acted with alacrity on so important an issue? Save for convening a meeting of Chief Secretaries of the States concerned, it did nothing. Thus, it has no cogent reasons – other than political – for its inaction. Isn’t it a willful disobedience of the February 16 verdict? Thus, intentionally or unwittingly, the Centre has gotten into hot water with the people of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, more so the latter.
People in both states are surcharged with a sense of injustice and betrayal. The ruling parties Congress and AIADMK are conveniently channelling people’s outburst toward the BJP. What has the NDA, in turn BJP, gained? Regrettably, it is a travesty of justice. Indeed!
At least now, the Centre should frame a draft of water-sharing scheme and submit it to SC by May 3, as ordered. Summer is round the corner and farmers' indignation has already come to the fore in Tamil Nadu. Apart from assuring them of water, governments need to wean them away from water-intensive crops like sugarcane and paddy towards millets with minimum price support schemes, to bring more acreage under irrigation.