May 22, 2018, 11:31 am IST
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Make Cauvery board final authority, SC tells Centre

Make Cauvery board final authority, SC tells Centre

S. Murari, May 16, 2018

The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to modify the draft scheme on Cauvery Management Board so as to make it the final authority and come back with the final draft tomorrow.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked the Centre to delete a clause in the draft which says that in the case of non-compliance with its order by any State, the matter would be referred to the Centre.

Accepting the contention of counsel for Puducherry that this would give a handle to the Centre and lead to politicisation of the issue, the bench directed that this clause be deleted so that the board would be the final authority and its orders would be binding on the basin States.

The bench said the board should be the final authority as its job was to implement the Cauvery tribunal's final award and the subsequent Supreme Court of Feb 16 endorsing it.

The bench also accepted the plea of Tamil Nadu counsel Shekhar Naphade that the headquarters of the proposed board be shifted from Bengaluru, as proposed, to New Delhi. The court said the board should be based in New Delhi while the regulatory authority could function from Bengaluru as Karnataka has four dams in the Cauvery.

The court rejected the submission of Kerala that giving control of the dams to the board would amount to infringing on the rights of States. Justice Misra said control did not mean physical control of the dams. The court said that by control, it meant that the board should have supervisory and administrative control over the dams so that it could ensure monthly release of the Cauvery water as per the schedule drawn up by the tribunal in its final order.

On the submission of Tamil Nadu that the proposed authority should be called Cauvery Management Board and Regulatory Authority, the Centre said it had no objection.

Once the final scheme is approved by the Supreme Court, the Centre will issue a notification on the formation of the board and the authority. The board headed by the Chairman which will be appointed by the Centre. Besides, each of the concerned State will nominate two part-time members.

Once the formalities are completed, hopefully in a month or so, the Centre through another notification will bring to life the much –delayed management board.

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