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Polls end, Cauvery draft flows

New Delhi: The Centre on Monday submitted in the Supreme Court a "draft scheme" for implementing the court's February 16 judgment that directed that a statutory body be set up to oversee the allocation of Cauvery waters among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

Union water resources secretary U.P. Singh submitted the draft in a sealed cover to a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Kanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud.

The bench, after a brief look, asked the four riparian states to respond and then posted the matter for further hearing to May 16.

At an earlier hearing on May 3, Tamil Nadu had accused the NDA government of playing "politics" over the river's waters to gain mileage ahead of the May 12 Karnataka elections.

It had warned that such a "partisan" attitude by the Centre would spell doom for "cooperative federalism" in the country.

But the Centre had said that any decision before the polls would result in a serious law and order problem. With the polls over, the Centre submitted the draft.

According to the draft scheme, the decision of the proposed board or "authority to be vested with the implementation of the judgment is binding on all the states".

Chief Justice Misra made it clear the court would not go into the legality of the scheme, but asked the states to give their views on whether it was in consonance with the February 16 verdict.

A three-judge bench had then enhanced Karnataka's share of the water from the original award by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in 2007, with a directive that a board comprising technical experts from all the four riparian states be set up within six weeks.

On Monday, attorney-general K.K. Venugopal said the Centre "had not given any name to the scheme, which could be a board, authority or a committee and it would be up to the court to suggest the name".

According to the draft scheme, the proposed authority would be headquartered in Bangalore. It would have an "eminent engineer" as chairman, two full-time and two part-time members each to be appointed by the Centre (from the water resources and agriculture ministries) and four part-time members to be represented by the four states.

"The authority will on June 1 every year determine the total residual storage in the specified reservoirs as it is not possible to know season-wise river flows...," the scheme said.

The Centre would contribute Rs 2 crore for setting up the authority. The states would contribute a matching amount together in the ratio of Kerala, 15 per cent, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka 40 per cent each and the Union territory of Puducherry 5 per cent.

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