Chennai, Mar 31 (PTI) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami today said his government would take all steps to protect the livelihood of farmers and restore the state’s rights in the ongoing dispute over sharing of Cauvery water with Karnataka.

Both the Centre and Tamil Nadu moved the Supreme Court today on the issue of constitution and composition of the Cauvery Water Management Board in compliance with the February 16 apex court verdict on the vexed issue.

Hitting out at the Centre, Palaniswami said the Centre could have filed its petition soon after the verdict.

“But it was doing it now..,” he said.

The Centre was yet to constitute the CWMB and Central Water Regulatory Committee despite his party MPs raising the issue and stalling proceedings of Parliament for 17 days, Palaniswami said in an official release.

In its plea, the Centre sought three-months time to implement the apex court order due to the upcoming Karnataka Assembly elections.

Besides extension of time, the Centre asked for clarification on various issues for formulation of a “scheme” for implementing the decision of the top court.

The chief minister said following discussions with senior government officials, it was decided that a contempt of court petition be filed in the apex court as the six week deadline issued by it for formulating a ‘scheme’ elapsed on March 29.

The contempt of court petition was filed in the supreme court today, he said.

“I have also advised the senior advocates representing the government to take up the petition before the first bench (of the Supreme Court) on April 2,” he said.

Palaniswami said he has also advised them to request the apex court to dismiss the centre’s plea at the admission stage itself and issue a direct order towards formation of CWMB and CWRC.

He said his government would continue to take all steps towards safeguarding the livelihood of farmers and restore the rights of the state on the Cauvery issue.

The chief minister recalled the initiatives taken by the government on the matter.

He said soon after the AIADMK came to power in 2011, former chief minister J Jayalalithaa continued to press the Centre over the issue.

Following this, the Centre notified the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal on the Supreme Court direction on February 19, 2013, he said.

Palaniswami said in its February verdict this year, the apex court had raised the 270 tmcft share of Karnataka by 14.75 tmcft and reduced Tamil Nadu’s share of Cauvery water.

It had granted six weeks time to the Centre to formulate a scheme to ensure compliance of its 465-page judgement, which modified the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal Award.

Following the verdict, Tamil Nadu has been urging the Centre to set up the CWMB and CWRC to ensure it received its due share of water from the inter-state river.

Palaniswami said a meeting with various political party leaders along with farmers’ association was conducted on February 22. It was decided that suitable steps would be taken after getting the opinion from legal experts.

He recalled that during the brief visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the city on February 24, he had personally urged him to constitute CWMB and CWRC.

During the meeting conducted by the Central Water Commission, the Chief Secretary along with senior government officials had also sought formation of the CWMB.

Palaniswami said a special resolution was also passed unanimously in the Assembly on March 15 and a copy of it was also sent to the Prime Minister the same day.

Meanwhile, AIADMK MP P Nagarajan, representing Coimbatore Lok Sabha constituency, today said he was ready to quit his membership over the delay in CWMB’s formation.

The Centre should constitute the board, he said, adding, if not, he was ready to step down as MP.

DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi alleged that the Centre has “wantonly” delayed setting up the CWMB.

The centre has kept in abeyance “an important issue of Tamil Nadu” keeping in mind the upcoming Karnataka assembly polls and its filing a plea in the apex court is only to “buy time,” she said at Tirunelveli.

The MP slammed the state government for not pressuring the Centre enough on the state’s rights on the Cauvery and described it as a “non-performing” government.PTI VIJ SA COR NVM BN

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.