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Cauvery water: Supreme Court wonders why PMO can’t organise a meeting

New Delhi, Sep 3 (PTI): The Supreme Court on Monday expressed displeasure over the failure of the Prime Ministers’s Office (PMO) to hold a meeting of a committee, headed by the Prime Minister, to resolve the Cauvery water-sharing dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

A bench of justices D K Jain and Madan B Lokur expressed surprise when it was told that the meeting had not been held till now as the PMO officials had been seeking convenient dates from the committee members, which includes the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.

The bench observed whether “the Prime Minister is to see his own convenience or that of others.”

”Sometimes we are short of words when it involves the highest functionary of the government,” the bench remarked and adjourned the matter to Friday, September 7.

The court had earlier asked the government to convene a meeting of the committee to resolve the dispute.

On August 30 the Centre had told the apex court that it would soon convene a meeting of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to consider Tamil Nadu's plea for release of 25.373 tmfct of water from Cauvery river to save the state's standing crops.

In its affidavit, the Centre had said it had written to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry on the proposed meeting for their consent as the meeting was subject to the availability of the quorum.

Once the consents of the states are obtained, the date would be fixed for the same, the Centre had stated.

On August 13, Tamil Nadu had made a plea to the apex court for a direction to the Centre for convening the CRA meeting immediately to perform its statutory obligations and approve the distress-sharing formula evolved by the Cauvery Monitoring Committee for sharing of flows of the river Cauvery in view of the prevailing “distress” situation in Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa has also written letters to the Prime Minister for the CRA meet.

In its application, Tamil Nadu had said during the current irrigation year 2012-2013, though the south west monsoon is not vigorous in the Cauvery catchment of Karnataka, the state of Karnataka has received 21.9 TMCft (thousand million cubic feet) of inflow in its four major reservoirs up to July 20.

”But it has not shared the water with Tamil Nadu. Instead it started to build the storages in its 4 major reservoirs and letting water in the canals of Krishna Raja Sagar for irrigation with the result that the state of Tamil Nadu has been deprived of its due share of water as per the interim order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal,” the application said.

It had complained that over the years, Karnataka did not agree to the distress sharing formula evolved by the Central Water Commission/Cauvery Monitoring Committee, with the result that it “resorts to impounding all the flows in its reservoirs depriving the state of Tamil Nadu in getting its legitimate flows, more so during the lean years, thus aggravating the distress situation.”

Tamil Nadu had said “during the current irrigation season 2012-13 also, the southwest monsoon has not been active so far in the Catchment area of Cauvery, with the result that there is a distress situation and since there is no agreed formula for sharing the flows in such distress years, the state is put to hardship.”