Cauvery water row: December end deadline for notifying final award
In what could be seen as a major victory for Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC) on Friday directed that the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) — announced way back in 2007 — be notified by this month-end. Jayalalithaa had on multiple occasions pressed the Centre to publish the final award in the government gazette to make it binding on Karnataka to implement it. The final award would come into effect within 90 days of its notification.
The CMC took the decision after it was coaxed by the Supreme Court to decide immediately on the quantum of water required to save the standing crops in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. In the process, it chose to wind itself up as well, since post-notification, panels like the CMC and Cauvery River Authority shall cease to exist.
The CMC also directed Karnataka to release 12 Thousand Million Cubic (TMC) feet of Cauvery water to TN by December. “It would seem equitable if Karnataka should manage water in such a way that Tamil Nadu receives 12 TMC during... December… after this release (both states would) have a shortage of approximately 47 TMC against their requirements in December. This shortage can partially be overcome by increased exploitation of ground water resources,” CMC chief Dhruv Vijai Singh said in his order. The CMC estimate flows out of the data available with it, including that collated by Central teams that visited both the States in October.
“Over the next six months, Tamil Nadu would face a shortage of 59.5 TMC approximately, while Karnataka would face a shortage of 34.8 TMC. The solution to such a problem is difficult but if one has to be guided by the principle laid down in the Interim Award, the distress needs to be equally shared,” the panel said.
TN Chief Secretary Debendranath Sarangi pointed out that Karnataka had not released water as per the Cauvery Interim Award and that it should immediately release 36 TMC ft to save the standing crop. For its part, Karnataka argued that it did not have sufficient water to meet its own requirements and it was not in a position to release further water to Tamil Nadu. Besides, any order to release water would create serious problems for Karnataka, its chief secretary said.
The CWDT, in a unanimous award in 2007, had determined the total availability of water in the Cauvery basin at 740 TMC ft at the Lower Coleroon Anicut site. The proceedings of the tribunal, set up in June 1990, went on for over 16 years. In its final award, it gave TN 419 TMC ft (as against the demand of 562 TMC ft); Karnataka 270 TMC ft (as against its demand of 465 TMC ft); Kerala 30 TMC ft and Puducherry 7 TMC ft.