Centre’s plea on flexibility in Cauvery Management Board composition draws flak

Plea seeks clarification on whether it can turn board into a mix of administrative and technical body; parties term the move as BJP tactic in view of K’taka polls.

Published: 01st April 2018 03:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st April 2018 03:23 AM   |  A+A-

Police has stepped up its presence with more than 200 cops deployed to prevent people from assembling at Marina to protest over the CMB issue | EPS

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: As expected, the Central government has filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking clarification on framing a ‘scheme’ to implement the final award of the Cauvery tribunal. However, the petition went beyond this point, seeking the view of the Supreme Court on whether the Central government has ‘flexibility’ on the composition of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB). This has angered political parties in Tamil Nadu. But analysts have different views on the issue.  

The Centre, in its petition, has sought clarification as to whether it could have the following flexibilities while constituting the board: i) “To modify the composition of the board to a mixture of administrative and technical body, and not purely a technical body as recommended by the Cauvery tribunal in its report; ii) Clarify whether the board framed by the Central government under 6A of Inter-State River Water Disputes Act can have functions different from the ones recommended for CMB by the tribunal in its order.  

Political analyst Tharasu Shyam is of the view that the Centre had committed a big fraud on the people of Tamil Nadu by filing this clarification petition, that too indicating its wish to dilute the composition of the board.  

Shyam added that even after the passage of six weeks, the Centre had failed to notify the amended order on the water sharing, stipulated in the February 16 verdict. “The final order of the tribunal was notified in the Union Gazette in 2013 and to move further in this regard, the amended order giving additional water to Karnataka has to be gazetted, which is a primary requirement. Only after this, the Centre can move to form the CMB,” Shyam said.

The clarification petition filed by the Centre clearly indicates that it does not want to constitute the CMB, said DMK working president M K Stalin. “It has also become clear that only with an eye on the Karnataka elections, the Centre had filed the petition,” Stalin said.

“There is no need for seeking clarification from Supreme Court because, in its verdict, the Apex Court had categorically clarified all the doubts, including the one about Section 6A of ISRWD Act. The ‘flexibilities’ sought by the Centre are aimed at diluting the powers of the board. The tribunal had said that only technical experts should be there in the board because all its functions can only be executed by experts,” said VCK general secretary D Ravikumar.

Ravikumar said it had already been established that the order of the tribunal was equal to the verdict of the SC.  “As such, the clarification petition is a delay tactic by the Centre. Even after three months, the Centre will not form the board,” he said.

A Veerappan, secretary, Tamil Nadu Senior PWD Engineers Association, said the Supreme Court had categorically held that it endorsed the order of the tribunal in toto, including formation of the board and its composition, except the quantum of water for some reasons. As such, there is no necessity for seeking a clarification on the issue. The Centre just wants to drag the issue until the Karnataka Assembly elections.

He said the Centre had not sought any clarification when the court ordered formation of such boards in other parts of the country, but chose to seek clarification only on the Cauvery issue.

PMK youth wing president Anbumani Ramadoss, in a statement, said the Centre’s intention to dilute the powers of the board was very evident in the views put forth in the clarification petition. “The Centre has asked whether Cauvery Supervisory Board could be formed in lieu of the Cauvery Management Board. This would undo the very purpose of the CMB and this should not be allowed.”

However, a senior advocate Tamilmani has a different view on the issue. He said technically, the Central government has the right to seek clarification on the issue as it is the authority to execute the order of the Supreme Court.  In a way, a clarification by Supreme Court in this regard would be better than an executive order issued by the Centre, which needs to be ratified by Parliament. “In this connection, we have to see that the Cauvery tribunal had overstepped its limits with regard to framing a mechanism for implementing final award, because the powers under the Section 6A are to be exercised by the Centre and not by the tribunal,” Tamilmani said. 

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