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Cauvery Water Sharing Dispute

Recently, the Tamil Nadu government sought the Supreme Court’s intervention to make Karnataka immediately release, cauvery-water-sharing-dispute..

Why in news?

  • Recently, the Tamil Nadu government sought the Supreme Court’s intervention to make Karnataka immediately release 24,000 cubic feet per second (cusecs) from its reservoirs.
  • It also urged the Court to direct Karnataka to ensure the release of 36.76 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) stipulated for September 2023 as per the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT)’s final award of February 2007.
    • This was modified by the SC in 2018.

Important facts about the Cauvery water dispute

  • States concerned:
  • Kerala,
  • Karnataka,
  • Tamil Nadu and
  • Puducherry (UT).
  • The dispute over the Cauvery water began in the 19th century between Mysore State (now in Karnataka) and the Madras Presidency (now Tamil Nadu).
  • In January 2018, in its order, the Supreme Court accepted Karnataka’s contention that Bengaluru is a world-class city that needs water infrastructure.
  • The Supreme Court ordered Karnataka to release 177.25 thousand million cubic feet instead of 192 thousand million cubic feet of water to Tamil Nadu at the inter-state contact point at Billigundlu.

How is the Cauvery Water Being Shared?

  • A carefully crafted monthly schedule governs the distribution of water between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the two riparian states of the Cauvery basin.
    • In a “normal” water year, Karnataka is bound to release 177.25 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of water from June to May to Tamil Nadu.
    • This annual quota includes 123.14 TMC allocated during the monsoon months from June to September.
  • The ongoing southwest monsoon season often triggers disputes when rainfall falls short of expectations.

What is the Cauvery River Dispute?

River Cauvery (Kaveri):
  • It is known as ‘Ponni’ in Tamil and is a sacred river of southern India.
  • It rises on Brahmagiri Hill of the Western Ghats in southwestern Karnataka state, flows in a southeasterly direction through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and descends the Eastern Ghats in a series of great falls and drains into Bay of Bengal through Pondicherry.
  • Left Bank Tributary: Arkavathi, Hemavathi, Shimsa, and Harangi.
  • Right Bank Tributary: Lakshman tirtha, Suvarnavati, Noyil, Bhavani, Kabini, and Amaravati.
The Dispute:
  • As the river originates in Karnataka, flows through Tamil Nadu with major tributaries coming from Kerala and drains into the Bay of Bengal through Pondicherry the dispute therefore involves 3 states and one Union Territory.
  • The genesis of the dispute is 150 years old and dates back to the two agreements of arbitration in 1892 and 1924 between the then Madras presidency and Mysore.
  • It entailed the principle that the upper riparian state must obtain consent of lower riparian state for any construction activity viz. reservoir on the river Cauvery.
  • The Cauvery water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu began in 1974 when Karnataka started diverting water without Tamil Nadu’s consent.
    • After several years, the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) was established in 1990 to resolve the issue. It took 17 years for the CWDT to reach a final order in 2007, which outlined the sharing of Cauvery water among the four riparian states. In distress years, water would be shared on a pro-rata basis.
    • CWDT issued its final award in February 2007, specifying water allocations among the four states in the Cauvery basin, considering the total availability of 740 TMC in a normal year.
      • The allocation of water among the four states is as follows: Tamil Nadu – 404.25 TMC, Karnataka – 284.75 TMC, Kerala – 30 TMC, and Puducherry – 7 TMC.
    • In 2018, the Supreme Court declared the Cauvery a national asset and largely upheld the water-sharing arrangements determined by the CWDT.
      • It also directed the Centre to notify the Cauvery Management Scheme.
      • The central government notified the ‘Cauvery Water Management Scheme’ in June 2018, constituting the ‘Cauvery Water Management Authority’ and the ‘Cauvery Water Regulation Committee’.

Way Forward

There is a requirement for a permanent mechanism to solve water disputes between states without seeking recourse to the judiciary. However, there are some official paths that can also help ensure the rational use of water, such as:

  • Declaration of Rivers as National Property as done by SC in the Cauvery Verdict may reduce the tendency of states. Water disputes need to be depoliticized and not be made an emotional issue linked with regional pride.
  • Bringing water into the concurrent list as recommended by Mihir Shah’s report and supported by a parliamentary Standing Committee on Water Resources.
  • Practice the concept of 4Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover) for water management to achieve goal 6 of the SDGs (Ensure access to water and sanitation for all).
  • Following the National Water Policy which emphasized rational use of water and conservation of water sources. Urban water management in cities like Bengaluru should incorporate the conservation of wetlands along with appropriate sewage treatment.
  • Interlinking of rivers and the Scientific management of crop patterns.

MCQs about Cauvery Water Sharing Dispute

Question 1: The Cauvery water dispute primarily involves which states and Union Territory?

a) Karnataka, Maharashtra, Puducherry
b) Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh
c) Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry
d) Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana

Question 2: When did the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) issue its final award?

a) 2007
b) 1990
c) 1974
d) 2018

Question 3: What is the total availability of water in a normal year in the Cauvery basin, according to the CWDT’s final award?

a) 740 TMC
b) 404.25 TMC
c) 284.75 TMC
d) 30 TMC

Question 4: What did the Supreme Court declare in its 2018 verdict on the Cauvery water dispute?

a) Cauvery river as international river
b) Cauvery river as a national asset
c) Cauvery river as a state property
d) Cauvery river as a regional resource

Read also:- Krishna Water Dispute

Cauvery Water Sharing Dispute,Cauvery Water Sharing Dispute,Cauvery Water Sharing Dispute

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