A group of eight opposition party leaders of Tamil Nadu met Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Thursday and presented him with a memorandum appealing him to press the Centre to set up the Cauvery Water Management Board immediately.
Here is the full text of the memorandum the leaders presented to the Governor:
MEMORANDUM SUBMITTED BY THE CAUVERY RIGHTS RETRIEVAL COMMITTEE TO THE HON'BLE GOVERNOR OF TAMIL NADU SEEKING IMMEDIATE INTERVENTION IN THE CONSTITUTION OF CAUVERY WATER MANAGEMENT BOARD
Date : 13 April 2018
Sub: Cauvery River Water Dispute - Implementation of Supreme Court judgment - Seeking your Intervention - Regarding.
On behalf of political parties including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Dravidar Kazhagam. Indian National Congress, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Indian Union Muslim League, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi and many others, a number of farmers associations, traders' groups, labour unions and, most importantly, the common citizen of the stale of Tamil Nadu, we submit this representation to urge you to take effective and immediate steps to ensure the lawful implementation of the common final judgment in Civil Appeal Nos. 2453, 2454 and 2456 of 2007 (Cauvery Water Dispute Case), delivered by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India on 16.2.2018.
As you are aware, the Hon'ble Supreme Court directed the Union of India to frame a scheme within six weeks so that the final award delivered by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal on 05.02.2007, which has the status of a decree, is effectively put into operation and the decades long dispute is resolved once and for all. For convenient reference, the relevant excerpt from the judgement of the Hon'ble Supreme Court is reproduced below:
'We direct that a scheme shall be framed by the Central Government within a span of six weeks from today, so that the authorities under the scheme can see to it that the present decision which has modified the award passed by the Tribunal is smoothly made functional and the rights of the States as determined by us are appositely carried out. When we say so, we also categorically convey that the need-based monthly release has to be respected. It is hereby made clear that no extension shall be granted for framing of the scheme on any ground." (Para 403 in page 457)
A literal and plain reading of the excerpt extracted herein above makes is clear that:
a) The Scheme must be framed by the Central Government,
b) The Scheme must be framed within six weeks, and
c) No extension for framing the scheme would be granted on any ground.
The word "Scheme" has been clearly defined in Section 6A (2) of the Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 to mean an "Authority' that will implement the decision of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal. The judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court, read in conjunction with the Inter State River Water Disputes Act and the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, leaves no room for doubt as to how the Scheme must be drafted by the Government of India.
Nevertheless, the Hon'ble Union Minister of Water Resources misrepresented the settled legal position in an interview to The Hindu on 27 February 2018, wherein he stated that 'there was no time-frame for constituting the Cauvery Management Board, This was a blatant attempt to twist the judgment delivered by the Hon'ble Supreme Court and thereby infuse an element of confusion. Furthermore, the Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Water Resources, has gone on record to say that there is no directive to set up a "Cauvery Management Board" at all in the judgment. The conduct of the Hon'ble Union Minister and Secretary to the Ministry of Water Resources cause grave concern for they have wilfully disobeyed the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court, and hence stand guilty of dereliction of duty. In this context, it is pertinent to quote the relevant extract from the Supreme Court judgment:
"Q. Mechanism (Cauvery Management Board) for implementation of Tribunal's decisions The Tribunal also did devise the machinery for implementation of its final decisions/orders and in doing so, took note of Section 6A introduced in the 1956 Ad by Act 45 of 1960 with effect from 27.08.1980 empowering the Central Government to frame schemes, d any, A respect of such implementation. It also noticed the amendment to Section 6 of the Ad whereby in terms of Section 6(2), the decision of the Tribunal after its publication in the Official Gazette was to have the same force as an order or decree of the Supreme Court. In this statutory background, the Tribunal was of the view that any direction to frame a scheme for the implementation of its decision would result in an anomalous situation. However, in its view, as the Inter-State Water Disputes (Amendment) Act, 1980 did not provide for details with regard to the constitution of the machinery and its functions, it had the implied power to make recommendations in that regard for implementing its decision. It, thus, recommended that the Cauvery Management Board be constituted on the lines of Bhakra Beas Management Board by the Central Government. It underlined that unless an appropriate mechanism was set up, the prospect of implementation of its decision would not be seared. It further recommended that as its award involved regulation of supplies from various reservoirs and other important nodal points/diversion structures, it was imperative that the mechanism, Cauvery Management Board, be entrusted with the function of supervision of the operation of reservoirs and the regulation of water releases therefrom with the assistance of the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (to be constituted by the Board). It then suggested the constitution of the Cauvery Management Board, its composition, its items of business. etc. It also recommended the composition of the Cauvery Water Regulatory Committee and outlined its functions." (Para 290 in page 336)
As you are also aware, the Hon'ble Supreme Court, vide its judgment delivered on 16.02.2018, has accepted all the findings of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal, which would also necessarily include the constitution of the Cauvery Water Management Board. Moreover, as extracted herein above, the machinery for implementation as stipulated in the Final Award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal has been quoted and referred to by the Supreme Court. In this context, the only logical conclusion we can arrive at is that the Government of India is determined to intentionally misinterpret the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court. In furtherance of this, the Union Secretary to Ministry of Water Resources convened a Meeting of the Chief Secretaries belonging to the four States (who were parties to the cases before the Hon'ble Supreme Court) and has sought the views of the various Governments regarding the word "scheme". We categorically state our position that the Union Secretary was not authorised to collate views of the parties to a matter which has been settled by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India. Therefore, it is only natural to draw an adverse inference against the Government of India for trying to avoid implementing the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court.
The Government of India choosing to wait until the lapse of the six-week deadline prior to approaching the Hon'ble Supreme Court for clarification is deeply disappointing and worrying. Should the Government of India be indulging in such manipulation merely to attain some electoral advantage in Karnataka, unmindful of the irreparable loss of livelihood of lakhs of farmers and reduction in the drinking water resources available to crores of people in the State of Tamil Nadu?
Subsequently, an all-party meeting was called by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to protest the unhelpful and counter-productive stand of the Government of India. However, in the meantime, succumbing to the mounting pressure, the Government of Tamil Nadu was forced to call for an all-party meeting on 22 February 2018. All the parties present in the meeting convened by the Government of Tamil Nadu unanimously passed three resolutions, including one to meet the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India to explain the prevailing situation and persuade him to act within the timeframe, fixed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court, to constitute the Cauvery Management Board. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has neither evinced any interest to meet the all-party Delegation from the State, nor reprimanded the Union Minister and Secretary to the Ministry of Water Resources for their inappropriate and contumacious interviews.
Furthermore, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed a unanimous resolution on 15.3.2018 demanding immediate formation of the Cauvery Management Board and the same has been sent to the Hon'ble Prime Minister. We believe that the unanimous resolution reflects the aspirations and sentiments of seven and half crone people of Tamil Nadu. But, all our efforts have been disregarded and our requests seem to have fallen on deaf ears. As you are aware, the AIADMK Government, which does not command the support of the majority of the Members in the Legislative Assembly, is beholden to the Government of India for its own survival and hence, has displayed a subservient approach on this issue throughout the developments. The AIADMK leadership and Government of Tamil Nadu are both incapable and unwilling to press the Government of India to adhere to the Court's orders and constitute the Cauvery Management Board. By doing so, the AIADMK Government has betrayed the interests of the state and its people, in the pursuit of corrupt practices in an all-consuming manner. Therefore, it would not be remiss to say that the people of Tamil Nadu have lost confidence that this Government will be able to ensure that the verdict of the Hon'ble Supreme Court is implemented.
The conduct of the Government of India in not drafting the scheme, as directed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court Within the six weeks timeframe and then filing a petition seeking clarifications regarding the wording "scheme" is highly condemnable. Such an inordinate, unjustifiable and wilful delay in implementing the judgement of the Hon'ble Supreme Court has dashed the hopes of lakhs of farmers of the State, who have already been suffering from severe drought, an incompetent State Government and indifferent Central Government. Furthermore, the people of the State are agitated and aggrieved by the prevailing situation which is entirely caused by the collective failures of the State and Central Governments. For six successive years, the Mettur Dam has not been opened for irrigation on 12 June, as it must be, and if the present trend continues, the entire Cauvery Delta Region, which is the "rice bowl of the State", will be turned desert unlit for pursuing farming activities. Moreover, the farmers and agricultural workers would be forced to vacate their lands and migrate to other States or seek other forms of livelihood. The people of the State have launched a series of agitations, fasts, bandhs, road rokos, strikes and protests to express their anger and anguish.
In what has caused further consternation to the entire State of Tamil Nadu, the Government of India sought another three months to implement the verdict of the Hon'ble Supreme Court. It can only be said that the Government of India is more interested in prolonging the water dispute between the four States than take any step to resolve it effectively.
As all our legitimate appeals went unheeded, political parties, trade unions, traders associations, farmer groups, students and young professionals have all been compelled to launch protests and agitations.
As a prelude to the bandh, there was a Road Roko across the State on 1.4.2018 by the various opposition political parties, led by the DMK. The Statewide Bandh, held on 5.4.2018 received wholehearted support and co-operation from all sections of society. The "Cauvery Rights Retrieval Walk" commenced on 7.4.2018 at Trichy by the Leader of Opposition Thiru MK Stalin along with the leaders of other major opposition political parties, has been a resounding success and the walk is culminating today with a meeting with yourself at Raj Bhavan, Chennai. But, we assure you that the peaceful democratic protests for our legitimate rights will not end here. The protests will continue with the same zeal till the Cauvery Management Board is constituted by the Government of India.
Therefore, we request you to kindly use your Constitutional Office to convey the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu to the Government of India and impress upon them the urgency to constitute the Cauvery Management Board without waiting till the 3 May 2018, and to immediately withdraw the clarificatory petition filed before the Hon'ble Supreme Court. Any further loss of time would be detrimental to the interests of the people of the State and will only serve to escalate the intensity of democratic protests. We, further, seek your immediate and effective intervention In this matter to implement the Final Award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal and the judgement of the Hon'ble Supreme Court and thereby, protect the interests of the people of this State of which you are the esteemed first citizen.
Yours Sincerely, Sd. XX XX XX (M.K.STALIN) Working President. D.M.K.
Sd. XX XX XX (K. VEERAMANI) President, Diravidar Kazhagam
Sd. XX XX XX (S. THIRUNAVUKKARASAR) President . Tamil Nadu Congress Committee
Sd. XX XX XX (K. BALAKRISHANAN) Tamilnadu State Secretary, C.P.I (M).,
Sd. XX XX XX (R. MUTHARASAN) Tamilnadu State Secretary, C.P.I.,
Sd. XX XX XX (K.M. KADER MOHIDEEN) President, Indian Union Muslim League
Sd. XX XX XX (THOL THIRUMAVALAVAN) President. Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi
Sd. XX XX XX (M. H. JAWAHIRULLAH) President, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi