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Friday, February 8, 2013

Cauvery river - when will water flow : it is 2.44 tmc orders Apex Court

It has seen it all ~ the river, which is considered more sacred than Ganges itself by Thondaradipodi Azhwar.  The banks of the river were so fertile that civilizations prospered along its banks.  In this unfortunate World, the modern people have seen more disputes in sharing its abundant waters.  The conflict has seen many twists and multi-forums.  The agreements of 1892 and 1924 have now been questioned and shredded. There have been cases in the Apex Court; at a later stage Karnataka and Tamil Nadu returned to negotiating table – that was in 1980s but nothing conclusive.  In 1986, a farmer’s association from Thanjavur moved the Supreme Court demanding the constitution of a tribunal.

There was judicial activism and the Supreme Court directed the then PM VP Singh to constitute a tribunal and refer all disputes to it. A three man tribunal was thus constituted on 2 June 1990.  There were 4 interested parties : Karnataka, Kerala, Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu.   In 1991, Tribunal gave an interim award and instead of water, there were riots.  The situation flares up badly when the monsoons fail and no Government ever dreams of any solution beyond than fighting bitterly over the release of water. 

Years later Govt proposed the Cauvery River Authority vested with far reaching powers to ensure the implementation of the Interim Order. Then came more bodies :  Cauvery River Authority and Cauvery Monitoring Committee.  The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal announced its final verdict on 5 February 2007. According to its verdict, Tamil Nadu  was to get 419 billion ft³ (12 km³) of Kaveri water while Karnataka got 270 billion ft³ (7.6 km³).  The situation worsened requiring the PM’s intervention in Sept 2012 to direct release of  9,000 cusecs of Kaveri water to Tamil Nadu at Biligundlu border.  

Yesterday came the directive of Supreme Court based on the report of the expert team of the Central Water Commission.  The Supreme Court on Thursday [7th Feb 13]  directed Karnataka to release forthwith 2.44 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu to save the standing crops on about one lakh acres in the Cauvery delta region. The team  had visited Thanjavur, Nagapattinam and Thiruvarur on February 5. A three-judge Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha, J. Chelameswar and Madan B. Lokur passed the order.

The Bench,  however, rejected Tamil Nadu’s demand that at least 9 tmcft was required to irrigate about 6 lakh acres of standing crops, even as senior counsel for the State C.S. Vaidyanathan submitted that it was not a fair assessment by the team.  Justice Lodha is quoted as observing that the Expert team’s effort is appreciable and the precise estimate was not the expectation and it is only a fair estimate. 

One side feels that the view of experts is wholly arbitrary  without taking into account the miseries of the poor farmers spread over the entire delta… but whether it is real  ! and when the appropriate award and its assured implementation will happen top the priorities of people………… it is another fact that Govts have to think of newer ways of optimizing production with lesser water and of cultivation without depending on river water, which makes the river flowing only when there are more rains…

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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