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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

BJP is delaying the execution of SC’s Cauvery order because of the polls

Things would not have come to this pass, if the Centre had implemented the Supreme Court’s February 16 order in full.

analysis Updated: May 08, 2018 15:53 IST
Venkatesha Babu
Venkatesha Babu
Hindustan Times
Demonstrators shout slogans as they block a road outside the venue for a cricket match in the Indian Premier League (IPL) during a protest in Chennai over the sharing of water from the Cauvery river with the neighbouring state of Karnataka, April 10, 2018
Demonstrators shout slogans as they block a road outside the venue for a cricket match in the Indian Premier League (IPL) during a protest in Chennai over the sharing of water from the Cauvery river with the neighbouring state of Karnataka, April 10, 2018(REUTERS)
         

Every summer, the contentious Cauvery water dispute comes to a boil. Tamil Nadu as the lower riparian state demands that Karnataka, which is the upstream beneficiary, release its share of water. Karnataka retorts that it doesn’t have enough water for drinking and irrigation. The river is the lifeline for the southern districts of Karnataka and is an emotive issue on both sides of the border.

This year has been no different. Tamil Nadu has requested the Supreme Court to direct Karnataka to release four tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) due this month. Karnataka’s minister for water resources MB Patil says the state has a mere nine tmcft in its dams and thus cannot accede to the neighbour’s request. The pot has been stirred further this year as Karnataka is set for polls on May 12. The Karnataka government has filed an affidavit saying it cannot release any water.

Things would not have come to this pass if the Centre had implemented the Supreme Court’s February 16 order in full. The SC had passed an order allotting 404.25 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) to Tamil Nadu. Karnataka’s share was increased by 14.75 tmcft to 270 tmcft, with Puducherry and Kerala’s shares at 30 and 7 tmcft respectively remaining unchanged. Karnataka’s share had been increased keeping in mind the growth of Bengaluru’s population, as the apex court noted.

Karnataka was also told that it has to release 177.25 tmcft every year from the inter-state Biligundulu dam. Keeping in mind that disputes arose in distress years when there wasn’t enough water in the river and to ensure equitable distribution, the SC had asked the Centre to set up a regulatory body — the Cauvery Management — to monitor the release by March 29. The CMB was supposed to be a permanent body under the Union ministry of water resources.

The Centre has been postponing setting up the board as the BJP apprehends that the opposition parties might use it as a stick to beat it with during the Karnataka polls. Except for Kodagu and Bengaluru Urban, the BJP has been struggling to make a mark in the Cauvery belt of Karnataka, comprising Mysuru, Mandya, Chamrajnagara, Hassana and Bengaluru Rural districts. The 60 seats in the Cauvery belt might decide who rules Karnataka for the next five years. The BJP is hoping that it can delay the constitution of the CMB until the polls are over.

Electoral considerations should not stymie the SC’s intention to end this recurring problem. The Centre should quit playing politics and constitute the CMB so that a fair, just and equitable sharing between all states can happen.

First Published: May 08, 2018 12:02 IST

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