The ongoing Cauvery water dispute between the southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka has once again captured the spotlight.
Recently, Tamil Nadu appealed to the Supreme Court to intervene and ensure that Karnataka maintains a water flow of 24,000 cubic feet per second (cusec) from its reservoir.
- Additionally, Tamil Nadu urged the apex court to direct Karnataka to uphold the water release of 36.76 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) as scheduled for September 2023, in accordance with the February 2007 order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal. This order was later revised by the Supreme Court in 2018.
- In response, the Karnataka government filed a counter argument on August 24, 2023, opposing Tamil Nadu's claims. The dispute revolves around the allocation of water from the Kaveri River, which flows through both states and has been a longstanding point of contention.
- Tamil Nadu's plea to the Supreme Court revolves around compelling Karnataka to release 24,000 cusecs of Cauvery water daily to support standing crops.
- However, on August 24, 2023, the Karnataka government argued that Tamil Nadu's stance assumes a normal water situation despite a 25 percent rainfall deficit this year. They asserted that Tamil Nadu's demand to protect standing crops is unfounded.
- Karnataka contended that the reported shortage of 28.849 TMC water is misleading, as it is calculated under the erroneous assumption of a typical current water year, disregarding the actual precarious state of water resources.
The Cauvery water dispute
- The Cauvery water dispute pertains to the distribution of water from the Kaveri River between the southern Indian states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
- This dispute dates back to arbitrations between the then Madras Presidency and Mysore in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
- The conflict escalated in 1974 when Karnataka began diverting water without consulting Tamil Nadu.
Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT)
- The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) was established in 1990 to address the escalating dispute.
- In 2007, the CWDT issued a decision on water allocation among the states in the Cauvery basin.
- According to this decision, water would be shared proportionally during times of crisis.
- The final allocation in a normal year was:
- Tamil Nadu - 404.25 TMC,
- Karnataka - 284.75 TMC,
- Kerala - 30 TMC, and
- Puducherry - 7 TMC.
- In 2018, the Supreme Court recognized the Cauvery River as a national asset and largely upheld the water-sharing arrangement set by the CWDT.
- The court also directed the central government to establish the Cauvery Management Plan, which was achieved through the formation of the 'Cauvery Water Management Authority' and the 'Kaveri Water Regulation Committee' in June 2018.
- Origin: Brahmagiri Hills of the Western Ghats (South-Western Karnataka)
- Flowing southeast through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, it descends from the Eastern Ghats in the form of large streams and ends in the Bay of Bengal via Puducherry.
- Prominent among its left bank tributaries are: Hemavati, Arkavati, Shimsa and Harangi.
- The right bank tributaries are: Suvarnavati, Noyil, Bhavani, Lakshmanateertha, Kabini and Amaravati.