Role of the Monitoring Committee

Published : Aug 15, 1998 00:00 IST

THE decks were cleared for the announcement of a scheme to give effect to the Interim Award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal with the drafting committee finalising the role and functions of the Monitoring Committee at a late night meeting on August 7. The meeting was chaired by the Cabinet Secretary and the Chief Secretaries of the States and the Union Territory concerned attended it.

As per the consensus reached at the meeting, the role of the Monitoring Committee will be to assist the Authority in order to enable it to take decisions on the issues under consideration. The Committee will assist the Authority in collecting information and data, the three States and Pondicherry agreed. Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry appear to have given up their insistence that the Committee should have the power to implement the Interim Award. Asked about this, a Government spokesperson said: "How can the Monitoring Committee, which is subservient to the Authority headed by the Prime Minister, have more powers than the Authority?"

However, the agreement adequately takes into account the concerns of Tamil Nadu. The Monitoring Committee will assist the Authority by monitoring the implementation of the decisions of the Authority, the note issued by the Government claimed. It added that in case any difficulty arose in the implementation, the Committee should report the position to the Authority.

The States and the Union Territory have also agreed that the Monitoring Committee will assist the Authority in setting up a well-designed hydro-meteorological network in the Cauvery basin, along with a modern communications system for the transmission of data and a computer-based control room for data processing to determine the hydrological condition. These functions and the fact that the Committee will comprise representatives from the Centre and all the States and the Union Territory concerned should ensure that the mistrust that characterised the interaction between the contending States vanishes, the spokesperson claimed and added that the Monitoring Committee would be able to ensure that both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka got their requisite quantum of water during the dry season.

Although the Cabinet Secretary has requested the Chief Secretaries to obtain the clearance of their respective Chief Ministers on the role and functions of the Monitoring Committee, sources said that the Chief Ministers had already endorsed the formula revealed to them during the August 6-7 talks. The Authority, the first of its kind to be created (comprising the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers) in any river water-sharing agreement, would offer the much-needed political healing touch. The sources said that this had been achieved by the force of the Supreme Court's directive.

The Government spokesperson claimed that the Authority would take decisions only by consensus. What if Karnataka or Tamil Nadu opposes a decision that is perceived to be against its interests? In that case, the spokesperson hoped, Kerala and Pondicherry and the Centre would try to prevail upon the dissenting State to agree to the decision taken by the Authority.

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