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Cauvery management scheme: SC reserves order on Centre's draft plan

Agencies/New Delhi 17 May 18 | 04:48 PM

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on finalisation of the Centre’s draft scheme for Cauvery river management, which will deal with the smooth distribution of water among Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

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A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said it would issue the order on Friday at 2 pm, or it could postpone the verdict to May 22 or 23 if it is not possible to pronounce it on Friday. The SC bench clarified that it will consider the suggestions given by all stakeholders while finalising the Cauvery scheme.

"We will pronounce the order tomorrow. If that is not possible, then we will pass the order on May 22 or 23," the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.

Karnataka had raised objections to the draft scheme, saying it was not in "consonance" with the Supreme Court judgment.

Attorney General K K Venugopal told the bench that the Centre on May 14, had modified certain provisions of the scheme that authorise the Centre to issue directions about the distribution of water from time to time.

The apex court had asked the central government to modify its draft scheme for setting up of a Cauvery Management Board (CMB) that will be the sole authority for implementing the Cauvery Water Tribunal Award.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, who appeared for the Karnataka government, told the court today that the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal had provided that minimum water be allowed to remain in the reservoir, so that a steady flow is maintained. He said the Centre’s draft scheme did not take this into consideration.

The apex court, in its verdict delivered on February 16, had asked the Centre to frame the Cauvery management scheme, which also included creating the Cauvery Management Board, within six weeks for release of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

The scheme, once finalised, would deal with the issue of water share of the four states in different circumstances like normal and deficient water years in the Cauvery river basin.

The Supreme Court had modified the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) award of 2007 and made it clear that it will not be extending time for this on any ground.

It had raised the 270 tmcft share of Cauvery water for Karnataka by 14.75 tmcft and reduced Tamil Nadu's share, while compensating it by allowing extraction of 10 tmcft groundwater from the river basin, saying the issue of drinking water has to be placed on a "higher pedestal".

With inputs from news agencies

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