GOI Gazette notification of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal Award on Feb 19, 2013:
Clear Partisan attitude: Proof lack of any interest in water, people or environment?
The belated gazette notification of the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, over six years after the Tribunal declared its award clearly signifies that the Union Government in general and its water resources ministry has no sensitivity or possibly sense for water, people or environment. The fact that it has been notified only under the deadline given by the Supreme Court of India more than once, as admitted by the Ministry in its Press Release, substantiates this point.
However, it also speaks a lot that the Supreme Court which has been sitting on the petitions from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu challenging the final award for all this years, and has been entertaining the petition on this issue all these years, has not found it fit to either dispose or dismiss those petitions, nor asked for this notification earlier. The direction for notification that the SC now gave could and should have been given earlier.
Also in this entire din, neither the concerned states nor the centre has given necessary encouragement and space to the Cauvery Family experiment that tried to bring the farmers from across the states together to understand, appreciate and resolve the issues through dialogue. This is particularly pertinent since people, the users of the water, river and the connected ecology were not a party before the tribunal. The people have not been heard by the tribunal, only the states have been, assuming that states represent the interests of the people, which is far from correct assumption. Nor do the people have any place in the regulatory system put forward by the Tribunal.
Some of the noteworthy features of Final CWDT award are:
– Meagre allocation of 10 TMC for environment flows in this major river system, which comes to just 1.35% of the assessed annual flow of 740 TMC (Thousand Million Cubic Feet or Billion Cubic feet) at 50% dependability (much lower than the usual 75% dependability assessment for other rivers).
– No calculation of groundwater use in inter state water allocation when ground water is increasingly the mainstay of our water use.
– No clear priority for drinking water and livelihood supporting irrigation water.
– No stipulation that environment flow should not be reduced in any lean season.
– Water storages below 3 TMC is not brought into calculation, so the whole assessment is biased in favour of BIG projects.
– No clear encouragement for System of Rice Intensification and water efficient cropping pattern across the basin.
For further comments see: http://sandrp.in/rivers/Article_Cauvery_Tribunal_Verdict_0207.pdf
Significantly, the SC order of Feb 4, 2013 is clear that this notification is without prejudice to the ongoing proceedings in the apex court. So there is no sense of finality as yet. The gazette notification in any case comes into force in 90 days, so sometime in May 2013, by which time Karnataka would have had its state assembly elections. So there is a lot of electoral and power politics that this issue will see.
SOME USEFUL LINKS:
Ministry of Water Resources notifies the Final Award of CWDT
On January 4, 2013, Hon’ble Supreme Court noted that party States did not have any objection to the final decision of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) being notified. Accordingly, Hon’ble Supreme Court in its decision dated February 4, 2013 directed the Central Government to publish in official Gazette the final decision given by the CWDT dated February 5, 2007 by February 20, 2013. Accordingly, Ministry of Water Resources has notified the Final Award of CWDT dated February 5, 2007 on 19th February, 2013. Details of the notification may be seen at http://www.wrmin.nic.in.
2. MWR Notification on CWDT: http://www.wrmin.nic.in/writereaddata/linkimages/CWDT_Gazette7023249620.pdf
3. Feb 2007 Article by Himanshu Thakkar on Cauvery Award was titled Cauvery Tribunal Award 2007: Why it fails the tests of science, efficiency and equity?: http://sandrp.in/rivers/Article_Cauvery_Tribunal_Verdict_0207.pdf (this article was published then at: http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/feb/06guest.htm)
4. Full CWDT award is available at: http://mowr.gov.in/index3.asp?subsublinkid=376&langid=1&sslid=393