oppn parties Cauvery Dispute: Yearly Bumbling Needs to Stop

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  • In reply to a question in Parliament, the government says it is empowered to lawfully intercept, monitor or decrpyt information stored in a computer resource in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of India
  • Police stop a 12-year old girl on her way to the Sabarimala shrine
  • In Karnataka, the JD(S) indicates that it might support the BJP government if it falls short of numbers after the bypolls
  • Congress pips the BJP in local body elections in Rajasthan, winning 961 wards to the BJPs 737
  • After Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, Jio also indicates that tariffs will be raised from December
  • Sources in Shiv Sena say that they might revive the alliance with the BJP if it offers the 50:50 deal
  • A miffed Sanjay Rout of the Shiv Sena says that it will take "100 births" to understand Sharad Pawar
  • Mobile operators Vodafone-Idea and Airtel decide to raise tariffs from next month
  • Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi and says more time needed for government formation in Maharashtra
  • Justice S A Bobde sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India
  • Supreme Court holds hotels liable for theft of vehicle from their parking area if parked by valet, says "owner's risk" clause is not a shield from such liability
  • Finance Minister says she is receiving feedback from many sectors that recovery is happening as there is lower stress
  • Sabarimala temple opens, but police bar the entry of women below 50 years
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Air India and BPCL to be sold off by March
  • Media person Rajat Sharma resigns as DDCA president
Two Muslim litigants in Ayodhya refuse to accept the Supreme Court order, say review petition might be filed
oppn parties
Cauvery Dispute: Yearly Bumbling Needs to Stop

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
It is becoming a recurring feature for Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to fight for Cauvery waters in every monsoon deficient year. Facing water crisis, the Tamil Nadu government approached the Supreme Court for relief. The court ordered Karnataka to release 13000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu everyday for the next 10 days on an ad hoc basis. The word ad hoc defines the root cause of this recurring crisis. Ever since the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal gave its award in 2007, things have been moving on ad hoc basis. Even after the Centre notified the final award in 2013 and set up a Supervisory Committee with representatives of the Central government, the Central Water Commission and the two states, there is no permanent solution in sight.

The present order by the Supreme Court has meant that while Tamil Nadu will get the water, farmers in Karnataka think that it is at their cost, as the state is facing severe water crisis with major reservoirs reporting precariously low water levels. This situation should not be allowed to happen. There should be a mechanism whereby the scarce water in monsoon deficient years is amicably managed between the stakeholders.

The award itself was faulty for the reason that it just considered the volume of water without factoring in the ground water in the river basin. A close scrutiny reveals that ground water in the river basin is more in lower riparian area than in upper. Any distribution of water has to take this into account. Scarcity of water in times of low rainfall is real and it cannot be wished away. Neither can it be a subject of repeated interventions by the Supreme Court. As we move ahead, water resources will continue to be depleted. There will be fewer crop seasons and acreage under farming will go down drastically. Hence, the need is to think of ways to plough crops that use less water and judiciously manage the limited water resources. Farmers in both states need to understand the needs and feel the insecurities of each other. In this regard, initiatives like the Cauvery Family, an inter-state group of farmers can come in handy. They can pool in their ground-level experience and expertise and do all that is suggested above.

But the above is just one side of the story. The other side is for the government to fulfill. There has to be a Cauvery Management Board, staffed with experts in water resource management and sustainable farming who can suggest a sustainable agricultural solution for the Cauvery basin. There has to be a Regulatory Authority to oversee transfer of water. Any permanent solution will have to be based on the matrix of water availability and use. Bumbling from year to year, with heartburn, protests and worse in the states needs to stop.