NEW DELHI/CHENNAI: The government is faced with the anger of an united Tamilnadu over the Cauvery Waters Tribunal. Unable to respond, it has now been pulled up by the Supreme Court for not framing a draft scheme for the implementation of the judgement on the distribution of Cauvery water between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.

Even as teachers joined the students initiative to send postcards in lakhs to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to setup a Cauvery Management Board, the apex court criticised the government for not framing the scheme in the stipulated six weeks before March 31, and for not approaching the court prior to the deadline to seek an extension. The court has now given the centre till May 3 to frame the scheme. “There is no escaping this task,” the top court said. The central government had asked for time beyond May 12, citing the Karnataka polls.

The court has urged both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to maintain peace till it puts a stamp of approval on the scheme for implementation of its judgement on the Cauvery water distribution. The Karnataka elections are due after the date set by the court, with New Delhi now in a bind.

The water issue has lit fires in Tamil Nadu with the public joining the political protest. Black badge, and black clothes demonstrations are planned for April 12 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit the state. The anger is widespread and has united an otherwise fractious state, with all political parties and organisations raising a voice on this highly emotive issue.

Responding to pressure from below, even pro-BJP actors like Rajnikanth have given notice to the central government on this issue even as DMK leader MK Stalin is leading a united opposition protest against the silence from New Delhi. Teachers have joined 1800 students of a private school, to send at least 10 lakhs postcards to the PM to set up the Cauvery Management Board, with the common person on the roads speaking now of little else but the waters issue.

A question on the forthcoming polls in Karnataka is invariably answered with a reference to the Cauvery waters issue, with the rain parched Tamil Nadu in deep agrarian distress. The centre is being urged to steer clear of “political gains” and take a just decision keeping Tamil Nadu’s interests in mind. The issue has become highly emotive, causing deep worry in New Delhi that has now been put on notice not just by the people of the southern state but by the Supreme Court itself.

Stalin had warned of intensifying the protests across the state if the court ruled against TN interests. As this has not happened, the pressure has increased on the centre to comply with the directives. The DMK leader pointed out, “Karnataka government remained defiant over the judgement. Union minister Nitin Gadkari and his secretary also echoed the same view. Yet, the Tamil Nadu government did not have guts to condemn them. You are concerned about protecting your skins. DMK is ready to resign its 89 MLAs if AIADMK asks its 50 MPs to resign to demand CMB. But the state government has not made any effort.”

Given the anger in Tamil Nadu, some of the IPL games might be shifted to neighbouring Kerala. The onus is back on New Delhi that has to spell out its stand through the scheme on May 3 in a decision that could have wide ranging repercussions on either Karnataka, or Tamil Nadu given the two states totally opposed and confrontationist positions on the Cauvery waters issue. The border between the two states is volatile with villages on both sides openly hostile to the other.