Speaking to TNM, Ayyakannu explains that the apex judgement has addressed some key concerns of the state.

 Why this TN farmer who protested in Delhi last year is happy with Cauvery verdict
news Cauvery verdict Friday, February 16, 2018 - 16:19

Remember P Ayyakannu? He had grabbed the nation’s attention last year, spearheading the 41-day protest by Tamil Nadu farmers in New Delhi. From holding skulls in their hands and snakes in their mouth to running nude in the South Block, Ayyakannu, who is the Tamil Nadu chief of the Desiya Thenidhiya Nathigal Inaippu Vivasayigal Sangam highlighted the desperation of the state’s farmers owing to the drought.  

On Friday, Ayyakannu like thousands of farmers in the delta districts of Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, and Thiruvarur had their eyes on the Supreme Court in anticipation of the verdict on the age-old Cauvery water dispute. Modifying the 2007 Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal order, the three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra pronounced that Karnataka will have to release to Tamil Nadu 177.25 tmcft of water as opposed to the earlier 192 tmcft. 

While political leaders like DMK working President MK Stalin and RK Nagar MLA TTV Dhinakaran expressed disappointment at the reduction of the water allocated to Tamil Nadu, Ayyakannu, contrary to the other opinions stated he is happy and satisfied over the Supreme Court’s judgement.

Speaking to TNM, Ayyakannu explains that the apex judgement has addressed some key concerns of the state.

As per the 2007 Tribunal order, Karnataka was mandated to release 192 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu. “But this 192 tmcft was only on paper. In 11 years, Karnataka has not released this water. Tamil Nadu only got around 100 tmcft of water,” he points out.

Explaining why the judgement is good for Tamil Nadu’s farmers, Ayyakannu observes, “Karnataka has been always saying that Cauvery is our own. But the Supreme Court has now said that Cauvery is not the property of Karnataka. It is common property. This is very good.”

In its order, the Supreme Court states, “The waters of an inter-State river passing through the corridors of the riparian States constitute national asset and cannot be said to be located in any one State. Being in a state of flow, no State can claim exclusive ownership of such waters or assert a prescriptive right so as to deprive the other States of their equitable share.”

The second reason that the apex court’s verdict brings cheer to farmers like Ayyakannu is over the formation of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB), that will ensure the allocation of water is implemented. While TN had asked for such a board, Karnataka had opposed it.

“In the judgement, they have pronounced that Cauvery Management Board should be formed. What is the meaning of Cauvery Management Board? The central officers should come to Karnataka and calculate the rainfall and calculate how many acres they are cultivating. As per tribunal order they can cultivate only 20 lakh acres. They are now cultivating 45 lakh acres. Tamil Nadu can cultivate 25 lakh acres, as per the tribunal orders. In the last 11 years, Karnataka has not been releasing water properly. The officers belonging to the Central PWD will now calculate the rain and give us water. Excess water will be divided. We now gave the opportunity to get more water,” argues Ayyakannu.

In 2013 when the Tribunal orders were notified in the gazette, the Cauvery Management Board should have been constituted by the Centre. However, even after five years, the Centre failed to set up the CMB. On Friday, the Supreme Court has fallen back on the 2007 Tribunal’s orders regarding the CMB. This means that the Centre will have to set up the Cauvery Management Board within six weeks’ time.

“It needs no special emphasis to state that the purpose of Section 6A is to act in the manner in which the award determines the allocation and decides the dispute with regard to allocation or sharing of water. Keeping that in view, we direct that a scheme shall be framed by the Central Government within a span of six weeks from today so that the authorities (CMB) under the scheme can see to it that the present decision which has modified the award passed by the Tribunal is smoothly made functional and the rights of the States as determined by us are appositely carried out. When we say so, we also categorically convey that the need based monthly release has to be respected. It is hereby made clear that no extension shall be granted for framing of the scheme on any ground,” reads the SC order.

Ayyakannu tells TNM that if the Centre fails to setup the CMB, Tamil Nadu’s farmers will return to the streets of New Delhi. “We will fight for this. The Centre must follow the SC order. Don’t cheat the people of Tamil Nadu, Modiji,” says Ayyakannu, adding, “We are happy and satisfied with judgement. It is a good judgement.”

 

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