Resolve Cauvery water dispute, SC tells PMO (Lead)

September 3rd, 2012 - 8:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday expressed displeasure over the failure of the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) to hold a meeting of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) to resolve the water-sharing dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

An apex court bench of Justice D.K. Jain and Justice Madan B. Lokur, while adjourning the matter for Friday, asked whether it should fix the date for the meeting of the CRA headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Mocking at the PMO officials writing letters to the members of the CRA, seeking their convenience before fixing the date of the meeting, the court said that it was surprising that the PMO was asking for the convenience of everybody before fixing the meeting.

“Is the prime minister to see his own convenience or see the convenience of others,” the court observed, adding that “sometimes we are short of words when it involves the highest functionary of the government”.

The court had earlier adjourned the hearing asking the government to convene the meeting of the committee to resolve the dispute. The judges said that even last time they had expressed anguish but no note was taken of it by the PMO.

“We expressed our anguish earlier unnecessarily. We raise our BP (blood pressure) and nothing is done,” the court said.

Taking exception to the tone and tenor of the response filed by the Karnataka government to the application by the Tamil Nadu government, the court chided the officials in the PMO saying: “They must have gone through the counter (reply) filed by Karnataka. Please don’t blame us if we make some observation. We don’t want to read it. We have seen the words used.”

“I am shocked that the officer in the PMO has not seen the counter” (response) filed by the Karnataka government, said a judge.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa in May had written to the prime minister, requesting him to convene a meeting of the authority.

The letter said: “During the current irrigation year, 2012-13, though the southwest monsoon is not vigorous in the Cauvery catchment area, Karnataka received 21.9 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of inflow in its four major reservoirs up to July 20, but it had not shared the water with Tamil Nadu.”

Tamil Nadu wanted Karnataka to release 25.373 tmcft, being the shortfall based on the distress-sharing formula.

The sharing of waters of the Cauvery river has been the source of a serious conflict between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The genesis of this conflict rests in two controversial agreements - one signed in 1892 and another in 1924 - between the erstwhile Madras Presidency and the princely state of Mysore.

Karnataka claims that these agreements were skewed heavily in favour of the Madras Presidency, and has demanded a settlement based on “equitable sharing of the waters”.

Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, pleads that it has already developed almost 3,000,000 acres of land and as a result has come to depend very heavily on the existing pattern of usage. Any change in this pattern, it says, will adversely affect the livelihood of millions of farmers in the state.

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