Yesterday, Tamil Nadu (TN) was left disappointed after a meeting between chief secretaries of the Cauvery Basin and the Union Ministry of Water Resources. The meeting was held to discuss the process of setting up the Cauvery Management Board (CMB,) but instead witnessed arguments about the meaning of the word scheme.
Earlier, the Supreme Court (SC) set a deadline of 6 weeks for TN to frame a scheme to set up a board. At the meeting, the TN officials argued the word scheme meant to comply with the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal to set up the CMB. Karnataka officials shot back pointing out the word scheme was mentioned and not the management board.
The Central Government stood along with Karnataka’s argument. The Union Ministry of Water Resources Secretary U. P. Singh said, “It is a matter of interpretation. The tribunal has recommended. The SC doesn’t use the word Cauvery Management Board. It says a scheme.”
TN’s Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan argued as per the SC order, the Centre’s duty is bound to set up the CMB within six weeks. She further added the Centre should stick to the SC’s timeline.
A Senior TN Official said, “We need to see whether the Centre deviates from the SC verdict. We need to also look at the roles and responsibilities of the regulatory mechanism. Also as to whether the Centre would pass ex parte (partial) order if any state does not nominate its representative to the regulatory mechanism.”
The meeting unanimously decided to pursue the formulation of the word scheme in order to comply with the SC’s verdict. In short, there were no takers for TN’s demand for immediate formation of the CMB. Once the CMB is set up, the management of the Cauvery reservoirs will be vested with the management board (neutral body) and not with the Karnataka Government.
Today, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Edappadi Palaniswami will have a high level meeting with ministers.