DOUSE THE DIS­PUTE

Only a wa­ter-ef­fi­cient crop­ping regime com­bined with the re­gen­er­a­tion of for­est cover can pro­vide a last­ing so­lu­tion to the Cau­very im­broglio

Down to Earth - - FRONT PAGE - RA­JESH­WARI GANE­SAN & SHREESHAN VENKATESH

THERE IS noth­ing un­nat­u­ral about the Cau­very con­flict. Any river that runs through dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal bound­aries is bound to have re­gions and peo­ple fight­ing over the re­source. What is un­nat­u­ral is the fac­tors that have ren­dered the wa­ter-shar­ing agree­ments be­tween Kar­nataka and Tamil Nadu—the two main stake­hold­ers in the dis­pute—dys­func­tional since they were first drafted in 1872.

This Septem­ber, the con­flict once again dom­i­nated the news af­ter Kar­nataka re­fused to re­lease wa­ter to Tamil Nadu, the down­stream state. Kar­nataka says it can­not share wa­ter when the Cau­very reser­voirs are barely able to sat­isfy the drink­ing wa­ter needs of the state. By re­fus­ing to share wa­ter, it flouted the Cau­very Wa­ter Dis­pute Tri­bunal ( cwdt) award of 2007 that man­dated a pro­por­tion­ate re­duc­tion in each state’s share in rain-deficit years.

This year the two states re­ceived deficit rainfall, es­pe­cially around the source of the river. Tamil Nadu promptly took the mat­ter to the Supreme Court. It main­tains that its farm­ers growing the win­ter crop of paddy, or samba, are to­tally de­pen­dent on the Cau­very wa­ter.

The apex court has made stop­gap al­lo­ca­tions through three rul­ings in Septem­ber. The first was on Septem­ber 5, which or­dered a daily re­lease of 10,000 cu­bic feet per sec­ond (cusecs) to Tamil Nadu for 10 days. The or­der re­sulted in vi­o­lent demon­stra­tions in Kar­nataka. The clashes led to the death of two per­sons in Bengaluru. Cur­few was im­posed in sev­eral parts of the city. Both the states ob­served bandhs, bring­ing life to a stand­still. The last or­der on Septem­ber 20, which stip­u­lates a daily re­lease of 6,000 cusecs till the end of the month, was also re­jected by Kar­nataka. On Septem­ber 23, both the Houses of the Kar­nataka leg­is­la­ture passed a unan­i­mous res­o­lu­tion not to re­lease any wa­ter. On Septem­ber 24, Tamil Nadu re­leased wa­ter in the Cau­very delta from the Grand Ani­cut dam to en­sure that the samba crop does not fail.

But the con­flict, clearly, is far from over.

R A M U K A R D N YE T A S

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