Weeks after the Supreme Court pulled up the Centre for not framing a scheme for the Cauvery Management Board by the stipulated March 29 deadline, the BJP lead government has asked for another extension.
On April 9, the Apex Court ordered the Centre to frame a draft scheme by May 3, which is the day the court was scheduled to hear the matter next.
But the Centre has now asked for a two week extension to form the scheme. If granted this would mean that the scheme will only be framed five days after the Karnataka elections.
Reacting to this development, AIADMK leader O S Manian told the media, "The Centre clearly doesn't want to form the CMB till the Karnataka elections are held. This delay is unnecessary. We have to see how the Supreme Court responds to this."
While hearing Tamil Nadu's contempt petition against the Centre for the delay in the CMB formation, the court had repeatedly rebuked the Centre for not complying with the deadline and told the state that it agrees with its grievances.
āYou have to frame the scheme and there is no escaping this task,ā the court reportedly told the Centre, and told the Centre that they had passed the order with difficulty.
To this, Tamil Nadu replied that anyone who understands elementary English understood what the Cauvery verdict said, but the Centre did not.
On February 16, the Supreme Court awarded its final verdict on the Cauvery water-sharing dispute, where it reduced Tamil Naduās share to 177.25 tmc ft from 192 tmc ft, while increasing the water allotted to Karnataka by 14.75 tmc ft. The top court had directed the Centre to frame a scheme within 6 weeks of the verdict. The deadline expired on March 29.
Two days later, the TN government filed a contempt of court petition against the Centre for not complying with the Supreme Courtās orders. The Centre, in turn, sought clarification from the apex court with regard to framing the scheme.
But, the use of the word āschemeā has left room open for interpretation.
Tamil Nadu interprets the use of the word āschemeā in the SC judgement as the setting-up of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB), as recommended by the 2007 Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal order. The Board will be an independent body which will regulate the flow of Cauvery water released to the states.
TN argued that formation of this Board is crucial as the state pointed out that Karnataka has, in the past, declined to release the entire quantum of water.
Karnataka, on the other hand, argued that the word āBoardā is not there in the verdict and has suggested alternatives to the CMB. Karnataka does not want the board to be set up as the state would then have to give up control over its dams.
With Karnataka going to polls on May 12, the Centre has also sought a three-month extension from the court to frame a scheme. The Centre argued that the Cauvery dispute is an emotive issue, which has caused law and order problems in the past. Notifying a scheme ahead of the polls would cause massive outrage and vitiate the election process, the Centre said.