After six years, SC rap, Centre notifies Cauvery Tribunal award

Six years after it was decided, the Centre Wednesday notified the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.

The move came two weeks after the Supreme Court rapped it for not issuing the notification and set a February 20 deadline to do so.

The tribunal had in its February 2007 award determined after proceedings that took over 16 years the total availability of water in the Cauvery basin at 740 thousand million cubic feet at Lower Coleroon Anicut. The tribunal gave Tamil Nadu 419 TMC of water as against 562 TMC demanded by it; Karnataka 270 TMC as against its demand of 465 TMC; Kerala 30 TMC and Puducherry 7 TMC. In distress years, the shares would be proportionately reduced.

Now, with the notification issued, the Cauvery River Authority and the Cauvery Monitoring Committee will cease to exist. They will be replaced by Cauvery Management Board and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee, which will have representatives from all co-basin states, and experts in hydrology and agriculture.

The move has, as expected, drawn opposite reactions from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. CM J Jayalalithaa said Tamil Nadu, which was "literally at the mercy of Karnataka", can no longer be denied water. "This is the best birthday present I could ever have in my life. This has been a protracted struggle to win Tamil Nadu's rights over the Cauvery water. After 22 years, this has culminated in the notification of the award. So I would describe this as a great victory for my government and for me. In more than 30 years in politics, this is the first time I have experienced a sense of fulfilment and a sense of achievement," she said. "This is the happiest day in my life and also for farmers in Tamil Nadu, especially delta farmers. This is their victory."

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