Chennai: The Centre on Wednesday notified the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal ending a six-year-long wait triggering celebrations in Tamil Nadu and protests in Karnataka.
"This is the best birthday present that I could ever had in my life.," said an elated Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa, who will turn 65 on February 24.
But her Karnataka counterpart Jagadish Shettar asked the Centre not to constitute the Cauvery Management Board till the disposal of civil appeals filed by the State in Supreme Court
Terming the notification as a "great victory for me and my government", particularly the delta farmers, Jayalalithaa said, "since the final award has been notified, it becomes binding on Karnataka" to release water.
"....hereafter Karnataka cannot refuse to obey the order of the tribunal", the AIADMK supremo said, adding, Tamil Nadu was "literally at the mercy of Karnataka all these years."
Noting that the notification marks the culmination of a 22-year-long struggle, Jayalalithaa, hoped that Tamil Nadu would receive its due share and when there was distress "we will abide by the directions given in the final order, final award of the Tribunal as to how distress should be shared."
Farmers in delta region welcomed the notification with bursting of crackers. DMK chief M Karunanidhi and other leaders also hailed the Centre's action.
The notification, however, sparked protests in Karnataka with members of Kannada outfit, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, staging demonstrations in Mysore, Mandya and Bangalore.
Shettar said there is no law to say that the Board has to be constituted.
"It (clearance for the proposed Board) has to come before Parliament, and there has to be discussions. Under law, there is room for amendment," he added.
The Board, comprising chairman Justice N P Singh and members N S Rao and Sudhir Narain, in a unanimous award in February, 2007 had determined the total availability of water in the Cauvery basin at 740 thousand million cubic (TMC) feet at the Lower Coleroon Anicut site.
The proceedings of the Tribunal, set up in June, 1990, went on for more than 16 years.
In, what was then described as a balancing act, the Tribunal gave Tamil Nadu 419 TMC of water(as against the demand of 562 TMC); Karnataka 270 TMC (as against its demand of 465 TMC); Kerala 30 TMC and Puducherry 7 TMC.
For environmental protection, it had reserved 10 TMC.
Reacting angrily to the Centre notifying the final award of the CWDT, the former Prime Minister and JDS supremo H D Deve Gowda announced "peaceful struggle" against the move.
"If it becomes inevitable, fasting will be Deve Gowda's last resort", he told reporters at Bangalore.
In its civil appeals before the Supreme Court, Karnataka challenged even the recommendation for the constitution of a Board.
"The proposed Board will adversely affect the absolute authority of the State to regulate its reservoirs derived from Entry-17 of the State List. This would be an unjust and unconstitutional measure which is against the spirit of the Cooperative Federal System. Therefore, it is not appropriate to constitute a Management Board", officials said.
Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Siddaramaiah sought to blame the State government vis-a-vis the notification, alleging that it gave an undertaking in the apex court that it had no objection for the notification of the final award.
Meanwhile, bus services from Udhagamandalam and Krishnagiri towards Karnataka were stopped apprehending trouble over the gazette notification.
Police and officials at Kakkanalla checkpost, near the Karnataka border, are advising taxis and car owners, with Tamil Nadu registration, not to venture into Karnataka, as they anticipated trouble following the notification of the final award, sources added.
Notification of Cauvery order great victory: Jayalalithaa
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Wednesday termed the gazette notification of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal's (CWDT) final award as the culmination of 22 years of struggle and a "great victory for me and my government".
Terming the notification a "birthday gift" (her birthday falls Feb 24), Jayalalithaa said it was a "big personal achievement in her 30 years of political life".
She said that for the first time in 30 years in politics, she was experiencing "a sense of fulfillment and achievement".
According to her, the state has permanently secured its rights to Cauvery river water and it is the happiest day of her life and of the lives of farmers in the Cauvery delta region.
Showing a copy of the gazette notification to the media here, Jayalalithaa said the notification marked the culmination of the 22-year-long struggle that began in 1991 when she became the state's chief minister for the first time.
Jayalalithaa said she became Tamil Nadu's chief minister for the first time June 24, 1991 and on the next day the Cauvery Tribunal gave its interim award, which was challenged by Karnataka in the apex court.
The Karnataka government also passed a law to nullify the tribunal's interim award.
She said it was under her orders that Tamil Nadu approached the Supreme Court, which struck down Karnataka's law.
"The next hurdle was notification of the interim award in the gazette by the central government. The central government was reluctant to do that," Jayalalithaa said.
The state government again approached the apex court and in December 1991 the interim order was notified in the gazette.
According to her, it was a long struggle to get water from Karnataka as the water release by the latter was not as per the prescribed formula.
Recalling her four-day fast in 1993 here, demanding release of Cauvery river water, she said on the fourth day, on the assurance of the Union Minister for Water Resources that the mechanism for sharing of water would be set up, the fast was ended.
Following that, the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) and Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC) was set up.
"In the past few years the central government was reluctant to convene a meeting of the Cauvery River Authority. We had to approach the Supreme Court for that," she said.
Referring to the gazette notification of the CWDT's final order, Jayalalithaa said: "Now it becomes binding on Karnataka."
She added that Karnataka should release water as per the award during normal times and during periods of distress, the water would be shared as per the distress formula mentioned in the award.
Shettar writes to PM against setting up of Cauvery board
Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Wednesday urged the Centre not to set up the Cauvery Management Board till the Supreme Court took a final decision on the pending civil appeals filed by the state in the matter.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he listed out the state's concerns and said Karnataka in its appeals had challenged the constitution of the Cauvery Management Board as proposed by the inter-state water dispute tribunal.
"The constitution of a Board/Authority under Section 6 A of the Inter-State Water Dispute Act should be done only after the final decision by the Supreme Court in the pending Civil Appeals, and also the above mentioned concerns of Karnataka need to be addressed forthwith," he said.
"The proposed Board will protect the interests of the lower riparian state - Tamil Nadu - virtually taking control over the Karnataka reservoirs which have been built by the state's own resources. This would be a draconian measure which is against the spirit of the federal system," Shettar said.
As the notification of the final award of the tribunal by the Centre sparked protests with members of Kannada outfit Karnataka Rakshana Vedike staging demonstrations in Mysore, Mandya and Bangalore, Shettar told reporters that there was no law to say that the Board has to be constituted.
"It (clearance for the proposed Board) has to come before Parliament, and there has to be discussions. Under law, there is room for amendment," he said.
Reacting angrily to the Centre notifying the tribunal's final award, former Prime Minister and JDS supremo H D Deve Gowda announced "peaceful struggle" against the move.
"If it becomes inevitable, fasting will be the last resort," he told reporters here.
Shettar, in his letter, contended that the tribunal had over estimated crop water requirement of Tamil Nadu based on its "self-serving affidavits" overlooking Karnataka's objections.
The latest assessment made by a Central team under Supreme Court directive had exposed the false claims of Tamil Nadu, Shettar said. "Therefore, the very basis of allocation of water to Tamil Nadu has to be revisited," he reasoned.
The dispute assumes larger dimension only during distress years and hence, the focus had to be on addressing the situation during the distress years, he said.
"Unless this is addressed, the dispute would defy a permanent solution which is expected in the final order of the Tribunal," he said.
Shettar also said the tribunal's prescription of monthly accounting of the quota on proportionate water sharing formula under distress situation without assessing the ground realities had been of great concern.
Moreover, the Cauvery River Authority was yet to finalise the distress sharing formula. Pending this, issuing final notification is going to have a great bearing on the Cauvery water dispute, he argued.
Elaborating Karnataka's concerns, Shettar said as against the state's claim of 465 TMC only 270 TMC of water had been allocated by the tribunal.
Leader of Opposition in Karnataka Assembly, Siddaramaiah sought to blame the state government vis-a-vis the notification, alleging that it gave an undertaking in the apex court that it had no objection for the notification of the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.