TN lets Centre worry about Cauvery dispute
N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
"The ball is in the Centre's court and we are happy to just
watch the proceedings with caution and care." That, according
to a source, is the attitude and approach of the Tamil Nadu government
to the current stage in the Cauvery waters dispute.
"The Centre is doing what we have all along been demanding,
and we are happy about that," said the source, referring to the
federal government's proposal to set up a Cauvery River
Authority to monitor the flow of 205 tmc-ft of the river's water
to Tamil Nadu each year, as per the interim award of the three-member
The Centre's intervention comes after a Supreme Court directive. Madras sought the court's intervention following the inability of the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to resolve the crisis last year.
Though Tamil Nadu has offered its comments, reservations, and suggestions
on some aspects of the Centre's proposals on the substantive
issue, it has every cause for welcoming the proposal to set up
a monitoring authority. "It is in the absence of such a regulatory
mechanism that we have not been able to draw the waters promised
to us under the interim award," points out the same source.
"Though Karnataka has expressed
its reservations to setting up a Cauvery River Authority, it will have little choice if the court upholds
the scheme," the source pointed out. "Alternatively, it may be up to the Supreme Court to
come up with a solution if it upholds Karnataka's reservations."
The Cauvery waters dispute has gone through
a vexatious route since 1974 when the 50-year-old agreement between
the then Madras presidency and the princely Mysore state elapsed.
While Karnataka contends that the agreement provided for discontinuing
the water supply, Tamil Nadu, based on the wordings of the 1924 agreement,
argues that it provides only for a review of the quantum of water
to be supplied at the end of 50 years.
After bilateral and trilateral talks involving the Centre also, the Cauvery Waters Tribunal was appointed in 1989 when
V P Singh was the prime minister. With Karnataka declining to
accept the tribunal's interim award, notified by the Centre as
required, the apex court urged the then prime
minster P V Narasimha Rao to talk to both the chief ministers
early last year.
The change of governments at the Centre and in Madras enabled
direct talks between the two chief ministers, but after kindling
hopes of a permanent solution, the talks were aborted, and Tamil
Nadu moved the tribunal and the Supreme Court all over again. The court has
since sent the dispute to the Centre asking for a parliamentary
In between all this, the chairman of the tribunal too was replaced when Justice Chittatosh Mukherji quit the post after H D Deve Gowda became prime minister. Though no reason was given,
it was said the tribunal chief, who had penned the interim
award, felt his position untenable because when Deve Gowda was chief
minister of Karnataka, he had opposed the interim award tooth and
All through the 20-odd years since 1974, Karnataka has been
releasing the Cauvery waters in instalments, after pleadings
and protests which often take a violent turn, particularly