Bengaluru: In defiance of the Supreme Court directive, opposition parties in Karnataka on Saturday urged the state government to oppose the setting up of the Cauvery Management Board, as it would be detrimental to the state’s interests.
“We have advised the government not to recommend any official’s name to the centre as the state’s member on the Board as we are against constituting it now,” said Janatal Dal-Secular (JD-S) leader and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy here.
The Bharatiya Janata Party also told the government to urge the central government from setting up the Board at this juncture as the state’s petition challenging the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal was pending before the Supreme Court. “We will prevail upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to set up the Board, as the tribunal’s various recommendations in its final award have been contested by the state in the apex court,” former BJP Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar told reporters here.
The top court’s Friday order to the Union government for setting up the Board by October 4 and its directive to the four riparian states to send names of officials as their representatives were discussed at the all-party meeting here. In addition to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry are the other two beneficiary states of the river water in the southern peninsula. The 765-km-long Cauvery river originates at Talakaveri in Karnataka’s Kodagu district and flows through the Western Ghats to Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry before joining the Bay of Bengal.
The final hearing of the state’s review petition against the tribunal’s award is listed for October 18 by the apex court. Though the tribunal gave the final award in February 2007, the erstwhile UPA government notified it only in February 2013 on the apex court’s direction. “If the Board is set up before the Supreme Court’s ruling on the tribunal’s award, its (board) decisions will not be binding on the states,” said JD-S lawmaker Y.S.V. Datta.
A division bench of Justices Dipak Mishra and U.U. Lalit asked the Union Government through its Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to set up the Board by October 4 to assess the ground situation in the river basin areas and directed the states to send names of their representatives to the central government by Saturday.
The opposition leaders also expressed surprise over the directive of the bench to set up the board when there was no such a plea before for it or in the petitions filed by both the neighbouring states.
The tribunal allocated 419 tmc (thousand million cubic feet) of the river water to Tamil Nadu, 270 tmc to Karnataka, 30 tmc to Kerala and 7 tmc to Puducherry. Though the tribunal ordered Karnataka to release 192 tmc feet of water to Tamil Nadu in a normal year from June to May, it did not recommend the quantum of water Karnataka has to release in a distress year when there is a shortage in the rain-dependent river, but left it to be decided by the management board it recommended to be set up.
Besides Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu have filed review petitions in the top court against the tribunal award, seeking clarifications and renegotiations on the sharing of the river water.