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Is it possible to solve Cauvery water dispute between Tamilnadu and Karnataka?

“If there is a war to happen, it will be for water” on behalf of this statement we should understand that nobody have the right to claim the ownership for water. The Problem

Kaveri is a river originating from Kodak district in Karnataka and flows mainly through Karnataka and Tamilnadu. Unlike Ganga and Brahmaputra it is formed from monsoon rainfalls.70% of the river is situated in Karnataka and rest 30%in Tamilnadu. The conflict started from the agreement made between former Madras Presidency and Kingdom of Mysore. A significant feature of the agreement was that it restricted extending area that was irrigated using Kaveri River. Since the river originated from Karnataka, they argued that the agreement was made in favour of Tamilnadu. On the other side Tamilnadu pleaded Karnataka not to change the existing pattern as their millions of agriculture land were dependent on Kaveri River.

Tamil Nadu vs Karnataka

Due to these problems the Government of India in 1976 kept Jagjivan Ram, the then Irrigation minister to find the facts behind this issue. Discussions were made between two states and a new group was made called Cauvery Fact Finding Committee (CFFC).They made a final draft which was finally acceptable between two states. Later when Tamilnadu came under President’s rule they rejected the draft. The meetings between these two states were of no use and the dispute continued.

How it Impact Two States?

Since 1892 Kaveri River has been the backbone of disagreement between the two states Tamilnadu and Karnataka. According to Karnataka the distribution of river has to be made equally under International rules. But Tamilnadu went on with the agreement of 1924. Also, Tamilnadu opposed the construction of dams in the River by Karnataka. They in turn stopped the supply of water to Tamilnadu. This made a great impact. The both states faced strikes, started dharnas and protested very strongly.

Water Crisis

Since, Kaveri River is completely depending upon monsoon rainfalls; there is a chance for drought if water is not available much. This affects both the states. If Karnataka tries to build a dam the whole agricultural sector of Tamilnadu will be tampered. This in turn makes the lives of thousands of farmers under a great danger. This can also affect Kerala and Pondicherry as they share the River’s basin.

In 1986 the farmer’s association in Tanjavur district in Tamilnadu reached Supreme Court for an order to make an end to this problem. In 1990 the Supreme Court while going through this case directed the two states to complete negotiations by April 24.When negotiations failed the Supreme Court said the Government to constitute a body to settle the dispute. The tribunal was headed by Mr.V.P Singh with Chittatosh Mukherjee (Retired Chief Justice of Bombay High Court) as Chairman and N.S Rao (Retired Judge of Patna High Court) and S.D Agarwala (Retired Judge of Allahabad High Court) as members. The tribunal calculated the flow of water in the years 1980-1990 and concluded that about 215 thousand million cubic feet water reached Tamilnadu and made a meantime order of allowing Tamilnadu with 215 TMC of Kaveri’s water which Karnataka has to ensure. The tribunal also ordered not to increase the irrigation land of any states.

The order passed by the tribunal made a large social issue. Many people were killed and institutions in both the states remained closed. The Karnataka Government rejected the order made by the tribunal but the Supreme court made the decision of tribunal as the final one. The drawback of tribunal’s order started in the year 1995.Karnataka received only small amount of monsoon rainfall. So the state was unable to fulfill the order. By the time Tamilnadu approached Supreme Court for 30TMC of water. But Karnataka was not ready to give that much amount of water since monsoon rainfalls were less. So the tribunal came to an order to provide Tamilnadu with 6 TMC of water which was not a big deal.

To make a final order, the tribunal passed its 1000 paged report on Feb 5, 2007.In the report they have allocated the shares as follows;

419 TMC for Tamilnadu

270TMC for Karnataka

30TMC for Kerala

7 TMC for Pondicherry

The tribunal allocated a total of 740TMC which included 10 TMC for environmental usage and 4 TMC for outlets to sea. The order also says that if there is a shortage of water the amount will be reduced proportionally. The 3 states Kerala, Tamilnadu and Pondicherry were satisfied by the order made on Feb 5, 2007. On the other hand Karnataka feels that they have been not considered .The whole state stood against the tribunal’s orders. The Karnataka government said that they will file a reversed petition considering the order as shocking and unacceptable.

Solution for the problem

Indus River is shared among India, China and Pakistan. Even countries with great enmity share water from rivers. They don’t face any problems. As states in a democratic and independent country Karnataka and Tamilnadu can solve their problem if they are ready to get rid of it. Since Tamilnadu faces water shortage they can think of rainwater harvesting, water recycling, increasing water table level by water harvesting pits etc.

-Irfan Ahamed