Cauvery verdict Tamil Nadu

Tracking the ebb and flow of a long-drawn dispute

The Cauvery water sharing dispute has remained a flashpoint in inter-State relations for decades. Pictures shows the CMs of TN, Kerala and Karnataka meeting the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee ahed of a meeting of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in 1998.  

Though the genesis of the Cauvery dispute can be traced to a row between the princely States of Mysore and the Madras Presidency over the execution of irrigation works in the late 19th century, it had become incredibly complex only in the last 35 years.

As long as the 1924 bilateral agreement was in force [till 1974], Tamil Nadu did not suffer much in terms of realisation of Cauvery water. According to calculations worked out by former civil servant S. Guhan in his 1993 book The Cauvery River Dispute: Towards Conciliation, the average realisation, as recorded at the Mettur dam, was 378.4 thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft) during 1934-70. It came down to 324.6 tmc ft in the 1970s and 229 tmc ft in the 1980s. The sharp decline in realisation in the 1980s can be attributed to the completion of many reservoirs by Karnataka across the Cauvery.

Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa shows the copy of the gazette containing the notification of the final award in 2013.

Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa shows the copy of the gazette containing the notification of the final award in 2013.   | Photo Credit: PTI

 

In 1983, the Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association moved the Supreme Court, praying for the constitution of a tribunal. In May 1990, the Court directed the Centre to establish the tribunal, and a month later, its order was complied with.

 

When the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal’s interim order was published in the Union government gazette in December 1991, large-scale disturbances broke out in Karnataka. In July 1993, the then CM Jayalalithaa held a four-day fast on the Marina demanding an implementation mechanism for the interim order. She gave up her fast on the basis of the Union government’s assurances, but nothing worked till the establishment of the Cauvery River Authority in August 1998. Four years later, when the southwest monsoon failed, tempers rose on either side of the Cauvery.

Another fast

In February 2007, the Tribunal gave its final order, which was not welcomed by Karnataka. In March 2007, Jayalalithaa, then the Leader of the Opposition, observed another fast for a day, demanding the publication of the final order in the gazette.

Film stars including Rajinikanth taking party in a fast over the Cauvery issue in Chennai in 2002.

Film stars including Rajinikanth taking party in a fast over the Cauvery issue in Chennai in 2002.  

 

In February 2013, the Union government published the order in its gazette.

Three years later, yet another failure of the southwest monsoon brought the two States to an intense exchange of words. The Supreme Court agreed to take up appeals filed by Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

 

When the Court disposed of the appeals on Friday, stating that recommendations of the Tribunal with regard to the monthly release would be in force for 15 years, it marked the end of a long episode in the dispute, which was essentially over obtaining water in times of need.

 


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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 8:23:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tracking-the-ebb-and-flow-of-a-long-drawn-dispute/article22781549.ece

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