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Saturday, June 26, 2010


In future, wars would be fought not for land but for water is a statement I read somewhere and thought of writing a piece on dispute of sharing of river water; but at this juncture reproducing an article shared with my group on 5th Feb 2007.


Dear (s)-  The Kaveri River is one of the major rivers of India, which is considered sacred in this country.The river originates at Talakaveri in the Western Ghats in the state of Karnataka, flows generally south and east through Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and across the southern Deccan plateau through the southeastern lowlands, emptying into the Bay of Bengal through two principal mouths.

The Kaveri River basin is estimated to be 27,700 square miles with many tributaries including the Shimsa River, the Hemavati River, the Arkavathy River, Honnuhole River, Lakshmana Tirtha River, Kabini River, Bhavani River, the Lokapavani River, the Noyyal River and the Amaravati River. Rising in southwestern Karnataka state, it flows southeast some 475 mi (765 km) to enter the Bay of Bengal.

It is a supreme irony that this river of life should remain a bone of contention. It is not only here, disputes between lower and upper riparian states have been existent from the days of lore. The history of the Cauvery dispute dates back to 1892 when the first agreement was signed. An award was given by Sir.H.D.Griffin in 1914 which was rejected by the then Madras Presidency. The summer arrives, and water emerges as a major theme in drought-prone India. Shortage of water is a global phenomenon, an ever-growing problem. With exploding population and excessive demand on a limited supply / availability of water, stresses and strains were bound to emerge between these riparian states..

The 1924 agreement provided for re-opening certain provisions with a view to sharing surplus waters, if any, after 50 years. Tamil Nadu avers that after 1924, Karnataka violated the spirit of the agreement by impounding and utilising waters from the rivers so as to extend its irrigation far in excess of its entitlement, and has caused injury to established irrigation in Tamil Nadu. In litigation, there can be no winner. Even if a court order is secured, it would be counter-productive to try and coerce a state into compliance.

Today is a landmark day, as Cauvery tribunal awarded TN 419 tmcft & 270 to Karnataka. The Tribunal, set up in 1990, had in its interim order given 205 tmc ft of water to Tamil Nadu. Headed by retired Justice N P Singh, the three-member Tribunal had arrived at the total availability of water at 740 tmc ft. In the much-awaited final verdict, the Tribunal has also awarded 30 tmc ft of Cauvery river water to Kerala and 7 tmc ft to Puducherry, the other parties to the dispute.

However, Karnataka will actually release only 192 tmc ft of water to Tamil Nadu in a year. But sources have state that TN will effectively get 217 tmc ft of water as it will be measured further upstream. This is more than what Tamil Nadu was getting so far.

Nevertheless, Monday's decision has fallen short of what both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had demanded. TN had originally asked for 562 TMC ft of water while Karnataka had demanded 465 TMC ft. Both the states have the right to appeal against the verdict, which affects at least 80 lakh farmers across south India. The actual release of 192 tmc ft will take place as measured at the Biligundlu reservoir on Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border.

WE fervently hope that in the National interests, the saner elements prevail; finally the farmers are back to their halcyon days, the delta turns green, granaries start flowing full with copious production of rice. Smile should be back on the delta farmers and eventually happiness pervades all the people of this great land.

With regards - S Sampathkumar.

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