The Cauvery River Dispute: The Final Judgement
1 month ago Saloni Hindocha 0
The Supreme Court on Saturday gave its much-awaited verdict on the Cauvery river water sharing dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The verdict came in favor of Karnataka whose share of water was increased while Tamil Nadu’s share was decreased. Karnataka will now release 177.25 TMC – thousand million cubic feet – to Tamil Nadu instead of 192 TMC. Supreme Court lawyer, Brijesh Kalappa told reporters, “The allocation of Karnataka which used to be 270 TMC has been increased to 284.75 TMC. About 10 TMC of water which had been found in the beaches of Tamil Nadu has been reckoned and therefore the share of Tamil Nadu has been reduced. ”
The Cauvery River has its river basins both in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The inflow of the river from Karnataka is 425 TMC ft whereas that from Tamil Nadu is 252 TMC ft. The controversy between these states started as a result of the two agreements made in 1892 and 1924 between the then Madras Presidency and the then kingdom of Mysore. According to Karnataka, these agreements were heavily skewed in the favor of the Madras Presidency and since the Madras Presidency does not exist anymore, the pre-independence agreements have been deemed invalid. Karnataka demands its due share from the river based on the inflow and asks for a renegotiated settlement based on ‘equitable sharing of water’ by both states. However, Tamil Nadu pleads that it has already developed almost 3,000,000 acres (12,000 km2) of land and as a result has come to depend very heavily on the existing pattern of usage. Any change in this pattern, it says, will adversely affect the livelihood of millions of farmers in the state.
Negotiations were taken place over decades and they had no effect. The Government of India then constituted a tribunal in 1990 to look into the matter. The tribunal heard the arguments of both the parties for over 16 years and then passed its final verdict on 5 February 2007. According to the verdict, 419 TMC of water was annually allotted to Tamil Nadu, 270 TMC to Karnataka, 30 TMC water to Kerala and 7 TMC to Pondicherry by the tribunal. This judgment, however, did not stop the conflict as all the parties decided to file review petitions seeking clarification of the order and possible renegotiation of the order.
The Supreme Court’s judgment on the Cauvery river dispute has increased the bitterness between both the states. Tamil Nadu expresses deep resentment of this order. The Supreme Court has further made it clear that the increase in the share of Cauvery river water for Karnataka by 14.75 TMC was done in view of the increased demand for drinking water by Bengaluru and also for the state’s industrial activities. Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka has emerged as the big gainer with 4.75 TMC allocated to it. Since Karnataka ended up with the bigger piece of the cake in the verdict, the state counsel Mohan V Katarki told reporters, “We are very happy with the verdict. This is a balanced verdict which protects the interest of both the states. This is a good judgment which will go long way in ensuring peace in both the states.”
Top court lawyer A Navaneethakrishnan, who represented the state of Tamil Nadu, told reporters, “We believe in the verdict of the court and respect it. Surely, this is not enough. We have raised the shortfall of water with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari who has two plans to address the issue, one of which is linking river Godavari with Kallanai.” A bench headed by Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra pronounced the verdict on the appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala against the 2007 order of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal (CWDT) on the sharing of Cauvery river water. The Cauvery is also known as the Ganga of southern India.
The situation became tense between the states when the top court in 2016, directed Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water daily for a period of 10 days to Tamil Nadu. Succumbing to political pressure and the wave of public protests, the Karnataka government had then filed a plea to modify the order.A week after its previous order, the Supreme Court made modifications and asked Karnataka to release 12,000 cusecs Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu till September 20, which was promptly refused by the state citing its own requirements and low water availability due to scanty rainfall. On October 18, 2016, the Supreme Court asked Karnataka to release 2000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu till further orders. On January 9, 2017, the Tamil Nadu Government sought a compensation of Rs 2,480 crore from Karnataka for not releasing water to the state despite getting the Supreme Court directive to do so.
Overall, it can be said that the rift between these two states has not shown any signs of reducing after this judgment. If something, the rift has become worse. The ruling parties of the states have called for a meeting to discuss the order in their respective states. “Cauvery verdict is a setback. We will study the entire order and take appropriate action,” said AIADMK MP A Navanatheekrishnan. DMK leader M.K. Stalin called for an all-party meeting over the SC verdict. The future still seems uncertain for peace relationship between these two states.