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Cauvery Waters Authority

  • IASbaba
  • May 5, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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POLITY/ GOVERNANCE 

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure
  • Government policies and interventions for development in Health sectors

Cauvery Waters Authority

Context: Central Government through notification on 24th April 2020 brought the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) under the administrative control of the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti.

Brief History of Cauvery Waters Authority

  • Central Government, in exercise of the powers under Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 had constituted the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in 1990.
  • The Tribunal adjudicated upon the water sharing of Cauvery river among the States of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Union territory of Puducherry.
  • The Tribunal gave its verdict in 2007. However, the party States filed casein the Supreme Court against the said verdict.
  • The Supreme Court delivered its verdict in 2018 modifying the Tribunal’s order. Click here for details
  • SC also directed the Central Government to frame a scheme under section 6A of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, to implement the verdict.
  • As a result, the Central Government notified the Cauvery Water Management Scheme on 01st june, 2018, constituting the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC)

What is the criticism of the notification?

Farmers groups & political parties are alleging that notification has reduced the Authority to a “puppet” of the Centre. The reason cited for this allegation are

  • CWMA was created on the direction of the Supreme Court in February 2018 and Ministry of Jal Shakti was formed in May 2019 through merging of two ministries. 
  • It is argued that between June 2018-May 2019, there was no public notification on the CWMA being designated as an organisation under then Union Ministry of Water Resources. Hence, the new notification is a move without any precedence.

Is the above Criticism justified?

Not necessarily, this is because

  • CWMA has been working all along under the Water resources Ministry.
  • Even in the case of its predecessor, the Cauvery River Authority (1998-2013) with the Prime Minister as the Chairman and Chief Ministers of the basin States as Members, the Union Ministry of Water Resources had administrative control
  • Besides, eight inter-State river water boards will come under the Jal Shakti Ministry as a result of this notification. Hence, it is not specific to Cauvery river.
  • The notification is just an allocation of business rule which means the authority will have to report to the Jal Shakti Ministry
  • Thus, the notification is just a procedural requirement (after the merger of water ministries) and has no impact on the independent nature of the functioning of the authority.

Is everything fine with CWMA?

No, there are criticisms against Centre vis-à-vis CWMA on the following grounds 

  • Even two years after its formation, the Authority does not have a full-fledged chairman.
  • Centre has been reluctant to act decisively in aspects relating to CWMA, other than under the orders of the Supreme Court, for fear of alienating voters in one of the States involved
  • The body has thus been not fully operational.

Conclusion

  • River Water sharing being a sensitive issue, Centre must ensure that all stakeholders are communicated properly as to avoid confusion.

Connecting the dots:

  • Do you think that the next World War will be over water? Discuss
  • ‘Rivers as a mechanistic producer of water, not as a dynamic life-giving system that is responsive to local and global triggers of use and abuse’. Comment.

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