NEW DELHI: The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) on Tuesday asked Tamil Nadu to approach the Supreme Court for appropriate directions on whether the Tribunal can hear a petition filed by the State seeking clarification on the 2007 final award allocating the quantum of water for each of the four states.
The Tribunal, headed by former Supreme Court judge Balbir Singh Chauhan, heard Clarificatory Petitions filed by riparian states, including Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, under Section 5(3) of the Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956. Three of the four states had sought clarification on the allocations.
The Tribunal, which met after a gap of seven years, expressed doubt on whether it can take up the case when a similar one is pending before the Supreme Court. “We are of the view that it is desirable that the State of Tamil Nadu may file a fresh application or press Interlocutory Appeals filed by it and get appropriate directions that this Tribunal may proceed with the application. Parties are at liberty to mention immediately after getting any order or directions from the Supreme Court,” the Tribunal said.
The Ministry of Water Resources had last month issued a notification asking Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry to appear before the Tribunal on July 15.
Of the available 740 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft), the award grants 419 tmcft to Tamil Nadu, 270 to Karnataka, 30 to Kerala and 7 to Puducherry. All except Puducherry have sought clarifications on the award. According to the final award, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court, Karnataka as the riparian State for Cauvery, has to release 192 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu annually.
Tamil Nadu is of the view that as the Supreme Court had not stayed the final award, there was no impediment for the Tribunal to address the pending applications. Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had demanded that the Narendra Modi-led government set up the Cauvery Management Board to implement a water distribution plan as per the 2007 order. However, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah recently met the Prime Minister, asking him not to set up the Board.
After many reminders from Jayalalithaa, the Central Government notified the final award of the Tribunal on February 19, 2013, making it binding on Karnataka. Jayalalithaa had also urged former PM Manmohan Singh to appoint a new chairman to the Tribunal.
The final order had envisaged the setting up of a Cauvery Management Board and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee with the roles, functions and powers to ensure water sharing as per the awarded formula.