New Delhi, Apr 10 (PTI) The Centre today sought to allay fears that water was not being released to Tamil Nadu for irrigation from Cauvery basin reservoirs due to non-formation of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB).

Union Water Resources Secretary UP Singh clarified that as per the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) award, water can be released from the dam between February and May only to maintain ‘environmental-flow’ in the river and not for any other purpose.

His remarks came amid reports of protests by Tamil Nadu farmers seeking establishment of the CMB and their complaints of non-availability of water for irrigation.

Some people are making it as if right now there is an urgency to release water and as if the water is not being released because of non-formation of CMB or something. So, first of all, I want to clarify that during these four months water is to be released only for (maintaining) e-flow, Singh told reporters.

The water for irrigation, he added, is to be released only from June to January as per the tribunal order and not between February and May.

He also said there is a supervisory committee headed by him to look into the issues or concerns, if any, on sharing of the river water.

The Supreme Court had yesterday asked the Centre to formulate the draft Cauvery management scheme and submit it to the court by May 3. The court had also asked the authorities of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and other stakeholders to ensure peace meanwhile.

Asked about formulation of the scheme, Union Minister of State for Water Resources Arjun Ram Meghwal said the process is on to draft the scheme.

To a question whether a board or an authority will be formed under the scheme to implement the court order, Singh said that the ministry has no problem with nomenclature of the structure that takes shape.

There has to be a structure under that scheme, he added.

According to media reports, the ministry had on March 30 cited the May 12 Karnataka elections to request the apex court to extend the deadline for implementing its February 16 order (of framing the scheme) by three months.

The Supreme Court had in February granted six weeks to the Centre to formulate a scheme to ensure compliance of its judgement on the decades-old Cauvery dispute, modifying the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal award of 2007.

When asked, Singh said the ministry did not pray for anything before the Supreme Court based on the election schedule.

We only wanted to sensitise the court about it, because it (Cauvery) is a very sensitive issue in both the states (Karnataka and Tamil Nadu). And naturally, when the elections are on, the sensitivity further increases. So, we just factually mentioned that in the meantime the elections (were announced in Karnataka) On that, we did not pray anything, he added.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.