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Cauvery dispute and its solutions


The Cauvery River is one of the most important and an interstate river that runs a total distance of 802 kilometre (km) passing through Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The Cauvery water dispute is the issue of resharing the already utilised water. This is unique in the sense that in this river the available water potential has already been over-utilised.

The issue of sharing of river water has been there prior to independence and an agreement has been executed between the rulers of erst while state of Tamil Nadu and also Karnataka with regard to sharing of waters and the farmers in Karnataka can definitely use the waters, there has to be a limit on the volume of water and area to be irrigated so that upstream water use does not jeopardise the longstanding downstream uses in Tamil Nadu.

With water being a state subject in the Constitution, The conflict can be construed as being rooted in divergent definitions of property rights by the conflicting states over the river water. The existing statutes of the Inter State Water Dispute (ISWD) Act as also those existing in the Indian Constitution seem inadequate to resolve this dispute so does CWDT order. The water sharing criteria is based on two situations:

  1. When water availability is above the normal water year flows.
  2. When water availability is equal or below the normal water year flows

Now, let's cut to the current situation. There are three major issues

  1. An ever-growing and expanding Bengaluru and nearby villages are heavily dependent on cauvery water for their needs and also towards industrial development.
  2. Cropping pattern in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are heavily dependent on Cauvery water and is also agreed that Tamil Nadu has better fertile lands and crop yields have given better results as compared to Karnataka.
  3. In distress years and scanty monsoon, the four reservoirs KRS, Kabini, Hemavathy and Harangi of Cauvery get to dangerously low levels of depletion and there's not enough water to go around.

In order to solve the said disputes and also provide a solution the government of India has constituted a special commission known as Sarkaria Commission to look into the disputes. Later on the case was referred to Inter State Water disputes tribunal and also Central Water States tribunal in the year 2002, 2007 and also 2012 where in Tamil Nadu and other riparian states were allowed to carry on water which shall suit the required state purposes. But Karnataka has not obeyed the Supreme Court order and has mentioned that water of cauvery is presently only sufficing the domestic needs which have led to mass protests in the state of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Solutions or remedies to solve the disputes:

  1. Modernisation of the canal network and control structures in both states which help to save water substantially.
  2. Reduce dependence on water crops and also look for alternatives for the same and also look after better methods of farming.
  3. Give and take policy where Karnataka can obtain power from Tamil Nadu because Tamil Nadu has surplus power.

Conclusion: In a federal country like India the disputes between states are bound to arise and there should be enough mechanism so as to solve the same. In the said issue many International principles have been applied and committees have also been formed which has been of little use or some times of no use. In this regard first both the states should sit down and come down to an amicable issue and centre otherwise and efficient mechanism must be present so as to solve the disputes and provide a solution for all the people without any difficulty.

- Ch. Phaneendra