Cauvery Water Dispute

Cauvery Water Dispute
Cauvery water dispute is a 125-year old dispute between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the sharing of the waters of the Cauvery River. The origin of the issue was during the British era in 1890s when the princely state of Mysore and the Chennai presidency under the British Raj had to come into terms for sharing the waters of the Cauvery River. The conflict rests in the two agreements of 1892 and 1924 between Mysore and Chennai over the sharing of the river. The 802 kilometers Cauvery River has 44,000 km basin area I Tamil Nadu and 32,000 km basin area in Karnataka.The Mysore and Madras (now Chennai) presidency were controlled by British in 19th Century, but the origin of the issue of Cauvery water dispute began in late 1800s when the Mysore princely state was controlled by the Mysore kings. After the drought and subsequent famine in mid 1870s the issue of water sharing of Cauvery River began. Mysore had the plans of irrigation projects that was opposed by the Madras Presidency. Mysore state then made a representation to the Madras presidency as a result of which a conference was held in 1890 with the aim of agreeing on the principles of a modus vivendi, which would on the one hand allow to Mysore in dealing with irrigation works, and on the other, give to Madras practical security against injury to interests and this led to an agreement of 1892. In 1910, Mysore came up with a plan of constructing a dam at Kannambadi village that would hold up to 41.5 TMC of water. The dam would be planned in two stages with the construction of 11 TMC capacity in first stage and the second stage would build the dam to its full capacity. This was however opposed by Madras and it refused to give its consent for the move as it had its own plans of building a 80TMC capacity storage dam at Mettur. After the reference to the then Government of India, Mysore was allotted a permission of 11TMC storage far less than what the actual plan of Mysore government was. However, during the construction, the foundation was laid that suited the earlier design of the storage. This raised Madras opposition and the issue continued. The British arbitrated the issue and defined the respective share of water and the water share was upon the area of farming supported by these two. The highly controversial agreement was then signed in 1924 and was designed to continue for the next 50 years. After India gained its independence in 1947, there were reorganization of the states of India and Kodagu, the birth place of Kaveri became a part of Karnataka state. Parts of Malabar, which earlier was included in Madras Presidency went to Kerala. Puducherry became a Union territory in 1954. After these changes, Kerala and Pudducherry also jumped in the issue and Keraa staked its claim on oe of the major tributaries of Kaveri and Puducherry demanded the waters as it has always used it for drinking and agriculture purpose. With these states, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka still remained the major ones disputing over the river. In the 1970s, after the end of the 50 years contract between the two states, a Cauvery Fact Finding Committee (CFFC) was constituted and the brief of CFFC was to inspect the ground realities and to come up with a report. By this time, Tamil Nadus irrigated land had increased from 1,440,000 acres to 2,580,000 acres whereas Karnatakas irrigated area stood at 680,000 acres. This meant that Tamil Nadu needed a larger share of water but Karnatakas stand on this matter was that the British were unfavorable to them. In 1976, after a series of discussion, a final draft was prepared on the findings of CFFC and it was accepted by all states. When Karnataka began construction of the Harangi dam at Kushalanagara in Kodagu, Tamil Ndu opposed the construction and went to the court demanding immediate stoppage of construction of the work. Later, Tamil Nadu withdrew its case and demanded a constitution of tribunal and the two states again started the negotiation. A three man tribunal was formed on 2nd June 1990 after the Supreme Court directed the V. P. Singh government to constitute a tribunal and refer all disputes to it.Soon after the tribunal was set up, Tamil Nadu demanded a mandatory injunction on Karnataka for release of water. The tribunal however, dismissed its plea. Tamil Nadu then went back to Supreme Court and the Supreme Court ordered the tribunal to reconsider Tamil Nadus plea. The tribunal then calculated the average flow into Tamil Nadu over a period of 10 years and the average worked out to be 205 billion ft. The tribunal then asked the Karnataka government to ensure weekly and monthly flows for each month of water years as well as to not increase its irrigated land area from the existing 1,120,000 acres. This then lead to widespread demonstrations and violence in Karnataka and thousand of Tamil families flee from Bangalore with the fear of getting attacked. After the bad monsoon of 1995 in Karnataka, the state found it very hard to fulfill the order of the tribunal. The Tamil Nadu on the other hand moved to the Supreme Court demanding immediate release of 30 Billion ft. the Supreme Court asked Tamil Nadu to approach the tribunal. The tribunal asked Karnataka to release 11 billion ft but Karnataka pleaded that it would be unimplementable to release such amount of water in this situation. Tamil Nadu then went to Supreme Court and the Supreme Court asked the then P V Narsimha Rao to intervene and find a political solution. The Prime Minister then convened a meeting with the Chief Ministers of both the states and recommended Karnataka to release 6 Billion ft. Karnataka accepted the decision and the issue closed. In the 2002 summer, once again the monsoon failed and the reservoirs in both state fell to record low levels. Tamil Nadu demanded that the Karnataka government must honour the interim award as per the 1995 decision and release the water immediately. Karnataka on the other hand stated that they had water hardly enough to meet its own demand and ruled out releasing any water in the circumstances. The final verdict of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal was announced in February 2007 and as per the verdict, Tamil Nadu gets 419 billion ft of Kaveri water while Karnataka gets 270 billion ft. the actual release of water by Karnataka to Tamil Nadu is to be 192 billion ft. both the states were unhappy with the decision and filed a revision petition before the tribunal seeking a review. On 19th September 2012, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who was also the Chairman of the Cauvery River Authority directed Karnataka to release 9000 cusecs of Kaveri water to Tamil Nadu daily. Karnataka said that it is impractical to do so due to the drought condition in the state and then walked out of the high level meeting as a sign of protest and filed a petition before the Cauvery River Authority seeking review on its previous decision. Tamil Nadu then filed a petition in Supreme Court seeking to direct Karnataka to release Tamil Nadu its due water share. The Supreme Court then slammed Karnataka government for failing to share the water and since Karnataka had no other option, it started releasing water. This led to protest and violence and also led to Karnataka Bandh. Later, the Supreme Court asked Karnataka to release 10,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu and the decision was given in the view of saving the standing crops in both the states. The issue caught up again in 2016 after the Supreme Court asked Karnataka to release water to Tamil Nadu and has asked the state government to provide Tamil Nadu 15000 cusecs of water to satisfy the demands of its farmers for growing the summer crops this year. This again led to huge protest and violence in Karnataka.
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