Centre seeks 3 months time for action in Cauvery issue, cites Karnataka election
The Centre felt that constitution of a scheme under Section 6(A) of the Inter-state River Waters Disputes Act and notification during the assembly election process would lead to massive public outrage, vitiate election process and cause serious law and order problems.india Updated: Mar 31, 2018 22:01 IST
The Centre on Saturday filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking an extension of three months for implementing the apex court’s February 16 order on sharing of Cauvery river water between three states and a Union territory.
The deadline for setting up a mechanism to share the water — some experts said this could take the form of a Cauvery Water Management Board — expired on March 29, but it was a given that the central government would miss the date because it is loathe to alienate the people of Karnataka ahead of elections in the state in May.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court on Saturday against cabinet secretary PK Sinha and union water resources secretary UP Singh for “wilful disobedience” of an order by the top court ‘s order in the Cauvery water dispute case.
Tamil Nadu said all that the central government has done is “to a convene a meeting of chief secretaries of the states and convening of such a meeting does not in any way make any substantial progress in the matter of constitution of the Cauvery Management Board and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee. “
The central government’s rationale for seeking the extension, according to its petition, is that constituting a board during the Karnataka election campaign could “ lead to massive public outrage, vitiate the election process and cause serious law and order problems.”
“Cauvery is a very emotive issue in Karnataka and in the past it has led to serious law and order situations leading to avoidable loss of human lives and property,” the petition added.
The Supreme Court’s order reduced the quantity of water Karnataka was asked to supply to Tamil Nadu by 14.75 tmc (from 192 tmc to 177.5 tmc) and was largely seen as fair. However, Karnataka, where elections are due on May 12 and which suffered a severe drought in 2017, isn’t keen on it. Tamil Nadu wants the order to be implemented. Both states have sparred over sharing the river’s water for almost a century. Kerala and Puducherry are also parties to the case.
The Centre has also expressed concern that due to divergent views expressed by the four governments, including Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, it believes that any scheme framed by it in consonance with the court’s order may again be legally challenged by them.
The petition added that Karnataka and Kerala had already written to the central government saying that any scheme proposed by it should first be shared with them before its notification. “To avoid further litigation by the states in the constitution and functions of the board, it is felt that clarification should come from the Supreme court,” the central government said.