SC finally resolves the centuries old Cauvery water dispute

By Ashwin Kumar from Bangalore, India (Cauvery) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Cauvery water dispute has divided Karnataka and Tamil Nadu since 1892. The Supreme Court’s verdict on the matter has finally settled the matter. Now both states will see some peace.

The Cauvery water issue has been a touchy subject since time immemorial. On Friday, the Supreme Court delivered the verdict slashing Tamil Nadu’s share and increasing Karnataka’s share of the river water. Karnataka will now receive 14. 75 tmc ft. of water more making it’s total share 284.75 tmc ft. Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, will receive 404.25 tmc ft. of water which is less in comparison to the 419 tmc ft. it was receiving earlier as per the 2007 verdict.

To make up for the loss, Tamil Nadu will be allowed to extract 10 tmc ft. of groundwater. The bench that delivered the decision was led by Dipak Misra. Karnataka’s share was raised because of its drinking water issue. The grounds of ‘drinking water requirement’ the bench said would be put on a higher pedestal. Kerala and Puducherry will continue to receive the same share of water as before. Kerala will receive 30 tmc ft. and Puducherry, 7 tmc ft.

The bench has also asked the centre to draft a plan within six weeks to implement this decision. Karnataka contested that it needed more water because Bengaluru was a ‘global city’. Bengaluru has been allocated 4.75 tmc ft. for its purposes alone. Farmers leaders in both states were both disappointed and pleased with the decision. Farmers from Mandya said they expected a larger increase up to 30 or 40 tmc ft. to Karnataka taking into account the farmers’ suicides and droughts.

The bench said that it would give equal status to all states, that inter-state rivers were national assets. It also said that the 1892 and 1924 agreements were not ‘political agreements’. It also rejected Karnataka’s argument that it had no bargaining power in 1892 and 1924. The tension before and after the verdict between the two states was high. No buses were plying between the two states and security around the borders tightened. Hopefully, the two states now learn to take the decision with a pinch of salt.