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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Nadanthai Vazhi Kaveri ~ Cauvery Central committee recommends 2.44 tmc release

The sharing of waters of the Kaveri has been the source of a serious conflict between the States of  Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The genesis of this conflict, rests in two  agreements—one signed in 1892 and another in 1924—between the erstwhile Madras Presidency and Princely State of Mysore. According to mythology, the river Cauvery flowed from the kamandalam of Sage Agathiya.  In  year 1972 – a great film about the sage Agastyar (Agathiyar), son of Pulasthya, son of Brahma hit the screens.   The title song of the film ‘Agathiyar’ was ‘Nadanthai Vaazhi Kaveri’ – glorifying the river Cauvery as one who makes all the land fertile and pervading goodness in all her path……  a beautiful song sung by ‘Seerkazhi Govindarajan’ the famous singer who was also the hero in the film.  The background music was by Kunnakudi  Vaidhyanathan.

நடந்தாய் வாழி காவேரி,  நடந்தாய் வாழி காவேரி ;
நாடெங்குமே செழிக்க நன்மையெல்லாம் சிறக்க…..

All that is history –  continued failing monsoons; improper distribution of Cauvery water over the years have ensured that the rice bowl is no longer the greenery it once was.  For about 17 lakh farmers of the Cauvery basin districts of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Trichy and Nagapattinam, the water from the river is their lifeline. They solely depend on Cauvery water to raise three rounds of crops – Kuruvai, Samba and Thaladi. There are reports of even suicidal deaths of farmers.

More politics has flown under the bridge than real water….. the last year was another one of inaction.  On 19 Sep 2012, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh , who is also the Chairman of the Cauvery River Authority, directed Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs of Kaveri water to Tamil Nadu at Biligundlu;  but  Karnataka defied stating that this was impractical due to the drought conditions prevailing because of the failed monsoon. Karnataka then walked out of the high level meeting as a sign of protest. On 21 September, Karnataka filed a petition before the Cauvery River Authority seeking review of its 19 September ruling. So another legal battle continued without any telling results.  On 28 Sep 2012, the Supreme Court slammed the Karnataka government for failing to comply with the directive of the Cauvery River Authority. Left with no other option, Karnataka started releasing water. This led to wide protests and violence in Karnataka. There was bandh in Karnataka and TN CM sought to file a contempt petition against the Karnataka government for flouting the verdict of the Supreme Court by unilaterally stopping the release of water to Tamil Nadu. On 6 December, the supreme court directed Karnataka to release 10,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu. The court asked the union government to indicate the time frame within which the final decision of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal, which was given in February 2007, was to be notified.  That  the decision is yet to be notified…. makes a sad reading indeed. 

This week, with a  view to assessing Tamil Nadu’s claim on the condition of the standing crops, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the Central Water Commission (CWC) Chairman to appoint an experts committee of three members to visit the Cauvery delta region of Thiruvarur, Thanjavur and Nagapattinam districts and submit a report to it latest by February 6.  A Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha, J. Chelameswar and Madan B. Lokur gave this direction following disputed claims by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on the standing crops’ condition in Tamil Nadu.

The court said, “There is a conflicting stand of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on the standing crops. According to Tamil Nadu, as of today, 6 lakh acres of its delta region are under single samba paddy crop. Three lakh acres of this will require two wetting and the remaining one wetting and in all, the water requirement for this crop is 9 tmcft. In the affidavit filed by Karnataka today, it is stated that about 40% of the area has already been harvested. In the 50% of the area, the crop is ready for harvest. As regards remaining 10% of the area, it is stated that it is at the stage of physiological maturity and even in this area no water is required as the crop is in maturity stage.”  Earlier, senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan, appearing for Tamil Nadu, told the court that Karnataka’s claim for drinking water supply, including the requirement of Bangalore city as 23 tmcft was highly inflated and excessive.

This week an on-the-spot assessment of the crop condition in parts of the Cauvery delta districts of Tamil Nadu was made by  a three-member expert team constituted by the Central Water Commission.  IENS reports that the committee  is said to have stated that the total water requirement for the delta crops is 2.44 tmcft. The team submitted its report to the apex court on Wednesday after a day-long survey in Thiruvarur, Thanjavur and Nagapattanam districts. In its report, the team is said to have stated that about 10 per cent of the area (about one lakh acres) alone needed watering. The area that required two and one wettings were pegged at 55,000 acres and 45,000 acres, respectively.

The matter is set to come up before the Supreme Court on Thursday. The court had on Monday already directed Tamil Nadu to release 2 TMC of water from its Mettur reservoir for its standing crops and assured that Karnataka would compensate it by releasing Cauvery water to that extent.  SC had also directed the Centre to notify the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) dated February 5, 2007. It rapped the government for abdicating its responsibility in not notifying the award as per the mandate of the Inter State River Water Disputes Act.  When Additional Solicitor General Harin P. Raval sought further time for the Centre to decide whether to notify the ‘final decision’ or not, a Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha, J. Chelameswar and Madan B. Lokur rejected the plea. The court ordered the government to notify the final award on or before February 20.

The Court condemned the situation stating that the Centre is not there to facilitate an agreement between the parties when they themselves have told this court that they have no objection for notifying the award.  The Bench, in its brief order, said: “The final decision was given by the CWDT on February 5, 2007. The final decision has not been notified so far. On January 4, 2013, this court noted the agreement of concerned States that they did not have any objection to the final decision by CWDT being notified without prejudice to their rights and contentions raised in the pending appeals. This court also noted the statement of Mr. H.P. Raval, Additional Solicitor General that the final decision by the Central government for publication is expected by January 31, 2013.”

The farmers of Tamil Nadu have been patiently waiting for notification and more for the release of water which alone could save the crops which are the lifeline for the very subsistence of the delta farmers.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
7th Feb 2013. 

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