Acting on the Supreme Court’s direction, the Centre has constituted a Cauvery Management Authority (CMA) to address the dispute over sharing of river water among Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry. In a gazette notification, the Ministry of Water Resources said it has framed a scheme constituting the CMA and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee to give effect to the decision of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal as modified by the Supreme Court order.
The Cauvery management authority would comprise a chairman, eight members besides a secretary. Out of eight members, two each will be full-time and part-time members, while the rest four would be part-time members from states.
- Exercise power and discharge such duty for “sufficient and expedient for securing compliance and implementation” of the Supreme Court order in relation to “storage, apportionment, regulation and control of Cauvery waters”.
- Supervise operation of reservoirs and with the regulation of water releases therefrom with the assistance of the regulation committee
- The Cauvery Management authority will also look at the regulated release of water by Karnataka, at the inter-state contact point presently identified as Billigundulu gauge and discharge station, and located on the common border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
- The authority at the beginning of the water year (June 1 each year) would determine the total residual storage in the specified reservoirs.
- The Cauvery Management authority has also been tasked to advise the states to take suitable measures to improve water use efficiency, by way of promoting micro-irrigation (drip and sprinkler), change in cropping pattern, improved agronomic practices, system deficiency correction and command area development.
- It has to also prepare an annual report covering the activities of the authority for the preceding year.
- The chairman of the Cauvery management authority should either be a “senior and eminent engineer” with an experience of water resource management and handling of inter-state water dispute or an IAS officer with an experience in water resources management and handling the inter-state dispute
- The Cauvery Water Regulation Committee has to meet once in 10 days during the months of June and October when the south-west and north-east monsoon set in and again after the monsoon has set in.
- The Centre will initially contribute a sum of Rs. 2 crore for the functioning of the authority.
- The share of each state will be determined on the basis of the flows so assumed together with the available carry-over storage in the reservoirs.
The top court had modified the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) award of 2007. 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”