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Karnataka objects to setting up of Cauvery board ahead of assembly polls

Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah objected to the creation of this mechanism, which most experts expected to take the form of a Cauvery Water Management Board.

india Updated: Mar 21, 2018 23:39 IST
Toufiq Rashid
Toufiq Rashid
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Cauvery river,Cauvery board,Karnataka election
AIADMK leaders raise slogans demanding constitution for Cauvery Management Board in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

Karnataka has objected to the creation of the Cauvery board to manage the split of the river’s waters between it and Tamil Nadu following a Supreme Court verdict on February 16, opening a new chapter in the century-old dispute.

According to the secretary of India’s water resources ministry UP Singh, the state has written to the ministry opposing the creation of a board.

The verdict, which asked Karnataka to provide 177.25 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) to Tamil Nadu instead of 192 TMC as ordained by the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal, also ordered the creation of a mechanism to implement its award within six weeks by the federal government.

Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah objected to the creation of this mechanism, which most experts expected to take the form of a Cauvery Water Management Board. This was what the tribunal recommended in 2013 — the creation of a centrally managed board with representatives of all three states and one Union Territory (Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry).

The sharing of the Cauvery water is a sensitive political issue in both states, and Karnataka, which saw one of its worst droughts in 2017, goes to polls in the next few months. “Karnataka has objected by saying the SC does not talk about setting up of a board but a scheme for ensuring release of water,” Singh added.

Karnataka raised this technicality when the chief secretaries of the three states and Puducherry met officials of the water resources ministry on March 9.

Tamil Nadu is adamant the board be set up by the deadline of March 29 fixed by SC. Opposition parties in TN have demanded that MPs from the state’s ruling AIADMK vote against the NDA government at the Centre in the no-confidence motion moved by Telugu Desam Party. But TN deputy CM O Panneerselvam on Monday rejected the demand, saying “the motion had nothing to do with constitution of Cauvery Management Board”. The TN government also asked the state’s legislators to wait until the SC deadline of March 29 for constituting the board ends.

A senior government official familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified, said the central government could say no to the formation of the board in the next SC hearing. Even minister of water resources Nitin Gadkari refused to set a time frame for formation of the board at a press briefing last week.

The Cauvery Management Board as suggested by the tribunal is likely to be headed by a chairman nominated by the federal government and have two other members, apart from four representatives, one each from the four parties.

First Published: Mar 21, 2018 23:27 IST