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Cauvery issue: Centre must draft a scheme that will settle the dispute once and for all

It is hoped that the Centre does not procrastinate any further and carry out the responsibility the apex court has entrusted on it so that there is little room for future discontent on the Cauvery issue

editorials Updated: Apr 10, 2018 14:13 IST
Hindustan Times
Farmers representing National South Indian River Link Association lie neck deep in Cauvery river bed with rose garlands to signify 'death' as part of their protest demanding the constitution of the Cauvery Water Management Board, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, April 6(PTI)

On Monday, the Supreme Court pulled up the Centre — and rightly so — for failing to obey its February 16 order to set up a scheme to distribute Cauvery water among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. In February, the court had asked the Centre to come up with a scheme to implement its water-sharing formula by March 29. The expectation among most was that this meant the creation of a Cauvery Water Management Board. Last week, the Centre requested a three-month extension which was not granted by the apex court. The court, on Monday, gave the central government time till May 3 to submit a draft scheme. Given the volatile nature of the dispute and the previous instances in which protests over the water sharing have turned violent — for example, Assocham estimated that the 2016 protests cost Karnataka Rs 25,000 crore — the Centre should have acted promptly. The decades-old Cauvery dispute mainly between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka has economic, agrarian and political implications. Given this fact, the Centre’s inaction has to a large extent contributed to the present series of protests by almost all political parties in Tamil Nadu.

Throughout last week, political parties, including the states’ ruling AIADMK, held protests against what they claimed was the Centre’s bias in favour of Karnataka. On Sunday, it was the turn of the Tamil film industry to protest, and actors-turned-politicians Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan extended their support to the cause. The latest target of the protesters’ ire is the Indian Premier League, BCCI’s Twenty20 tournament, with many parties demanding that no IPL match be held in Chennai. This is an unproductive stand and does not serve any purpose. Mr Rajinikanth’s suggestion that spectators, even players, sport a black band as a mark of protest is a more acceptable, non-violent way to raise the issue.

It is hoped that the Centre does not procrastinate any further and carries out the responsibility the apex court has entrusted to it. Procrastination and politics have proved a drag on the Cauvery issue. The court has shown a way out and it should be taken.

First Published: Apr 09, 2018 19:30 IST