Even as the Chief Election Commission OP Rawat announced the dates for the Assembly Elections in Karnataka, the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu was on tenterhooks. With the Model Code of Conduct coming into effect immediately, the question that many in Tamil Nadu were asking is – will the Centre be able to set up the Cauvery Management Board as directed by the Supreme Court?
The apex court had on February 16 delivered the final verdict on the Cauvery water sharing dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. In its modified order, Tamil Nadu would get 177.25 tmcft water, while Karnataka would get 14.75 tmcft more than it was allocated in the previous judgement. The Supreme Court also directed the Centre to “frame a scheme” within six weeks to ensure its final decision is implemented. This deadline to implement the top court’s orders is March 29.
When asked whether setting up the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) would constitute a violation of the Model Code of Conduct, Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said, “Whatever is the direction or the order of the honorable court and compliance thereof, Commission and MCC doesn’t come in the way.” With the CEC giving the green signal to set up the Cauvery Management Board, the question now is will the Centre comply with the court’s directives?
The formation of the Cauvery Management Board has been a point of contention between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Political parties in Tamil Nadu have been putting pressure on the Centre to set up the CMB, alleging that a neutral body is required to ensure Cauvery water is released on time, given that in the past Karnataka has not complied with directions.
However, Karnataka has been opposing the setting up of a Board as the management of their dams will no longer be in the state’s control.
But the word ‘scheme’ in the apex court order has given room for interpretation. While TN argues that ‘scheme’ meant the Cauvery Management Board, Karnataka has opposed this stating that there is no mention of the CMB and only a ‘scheme’ is mentioned.
Following a meeting of chief secretaries of the Cauvery Basin states with Union Ministry of Water Resources recently, the Centre chose to side with Karnataka’s argument.
On Tuesday, the Election Commission announced the poll dates in Karnataka. While polling will take place on May 12, the counting of votes will be held on May 15. Karnataka will see a three-cornered fight between the Congress, BJP and the JDS.
— Sun News (@sunnewstamil) March 27, 2018
Compiled by Megha Kaveri