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Cauvery dispute and its solutions


One of the great persons in the world predicted that the next world war may be in the name of water. In the case of Cauvery it is true.

In Mahabharata we can see a story about the origin of river Cauvery. Sage Agastya was sad with the water scarcity of south India. He worshipped Lord Brahma and asked a solution for the draught. By hearing the advice of Brahma, Agastya went to Kailas, where Siva is living. He presented the problem in front of Siva. Siva gave some water in sage's pot. Indra, the lord of Rain was afraid of Agastya's moves called Ganesh. Agastya reached in south India and started to search a correct place for the river. At this time Ganesh came in the form of a crow and spilled the pot. Water in the pot started flowing. It is the river, Cauvery.

Today Cauvery is one of the burning issue in Indian politics as well as in integrity. River Cauvery is originating from Thalakkaveri in Brahmagiri hills in Karnataka. Its basin is spread over three states and one union territory. Its main tributaries are Bhavani, pambar etc. Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puduchery have shares in Cauvery water. Cauvery water agreement is a pre Independence one, signed between Presidency of Madras and Princely state of Mysore. After Independence new agreement created and Tamilnadu and Karnataka got major shares. According to pre independence agreement Tamilnadu and Puduchery got 73% of water and Karnataka got 23%of water and the remaining went to Kerala's pool. After independence Karnataka suggested 94% water to Karnataka and Tamilnadu and it should be equally divided between the two states. And the rest to Kerala and Puduchery.

Because of dispute a tribunal was constituted. Tribunal was established on 2nd June 1990. After long hearing tribunal ordered that Tamil Nadu would be allocated 419 tmc ft. water (56.62%) and Karnataka 270 tmc ft. (36.48%). Kerala was given 30 tmc ft. (4.05%) and Puducherry 7 tmc ft. (0.94%).Tamilnadu and Karnataka filed a review petition. The apex court also involved in the issue, but it couldn't solve the problem. What is the present scenario? On summer seasons the river became slim and amount of water will be less. This leads to disputes between states. In September the apex court gave the 'last chance' for Karnataka for the release of 6000 cueses of water till 6th Oct. for Tamilnadu. The court at last directed for the release of 2000 cusecs water to Tamilnadu from Oct.7 to 18. Order of apex court made a lot of problems in both states. The Silicon valley of India also suffered the consequences of the verdict of SC. Normally Bengaluru is free from political issues as well as harthals. But this made dark shadow upon the IT hub. Transportation between two states was also paused.

Karnataka saying that they don't have enough water for drinking purposes, then how they release water for agricultural purpose of Tamilnadu? If Karnataka don't release water, it will adversely affect the Samba crops of Tamilnadu. Both states have their own explanations. But we have no correct solutions.

What are the measures we can adopt to solve this problem?

  • The absence of 'Cauvery Management Board': A regulatory authority. Constitution of board was suggested by the tribunal. Yet it is not constituted.
  • Cauvery basin can't adopt tough agricultural seasons for a longer term. So changing of our agricultural practice is the only solution. Select water less crops other than sugar, paddy etc. otherwise use hybrid varieties which consume less water. Fewer crop seasons and low acreages is preferable.
  • For long term agriculture we need a sustainable agriculture practice. Approach another ways for water security such as rain harvesting methods, making of wells and ponds etc.
  • Non-political initiatives such as 'Cauvery Family', a body formed a few years ago covering farmers of both States, could help to disperse the clouds of hostility that gather over the border whenever the Cauvery crisis erupts.
  • At present the states taking regional approach rather than a conditional approach. Political parties are making the problem more severe. They misuse it for their benefit. A joint session of all state governments may can resolve the problem. In each year an analysis of monsoon and water availability should be done and thereby fix the shares of water for each state.

Solutions in disputes derive only through effective talks. Sometimes solutions are hard to accept. Aggressive methods are not correct. It destroys the integrity and brotherhood of our nation. "India is my country, all Indians are my brothers and sisters"-Don't forget this.

Cauvery dispute seeks an urgent solution. Only through a correct decision we can maintain a good relationship between the states.

- Aswathi P