The real issue with the Cauvery waters Authority is that it is rudderless
- The Cauvery is a perennial source of controversies, the latest political row to erupt in Tamil Nadu is around the Centre’s April 24 notification bringing the Cauvery Water Management Authority under the administrative control of the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti, which was created a year ago by combining two Ministries.
- Several political parties, especially the Opposition, and some farmers’ associations were upset with the notification on the ground that the move has reduced the Authority to a “puppet” of the Centre.
- They point out that the CWMA was created on the direction of the Supreme Court in February 2018.
- 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.
- Along with the CWMA, four other bodies, including the Krishna and the Godavari Water Management Boards — which have been in existence since 2014 following the re-organisation of Andhra Pradesh — were designated to be under the Ministry.
- Apart from meeting the procedural requirement, the notification does not, in any way, alter the character, functions or powers of the CWMA that form part of a scheme drawn up a few years ago, and which was approved by the Supreme Court.
- The Centre would do well to act, at least now, in making the CWMA fully operational, when the southwest monsoon is about to set in.
- Successive governments at the Centre have been wary of acting decisively, other than under the orders of the Supreme Court for fear of alienating voters in one of the States involved.
- The latest episode should convince political parties that relentless politicisation of each and every matter concerning water resources does not benefit the stakeholders.
- The parties should realise that electoral gains or losses are not always linked to their stand on any one issue, even if it is the Cauvery, the lifeline of Tamil Nadu’s rice bowl.