Cauvery Water Sharing Dispute: Recent Updates and Background

Cauvery Water Sharing Dispute: Recent Updates and Background
Posted on 16-08-2023

Ongoing Cauvery Water Sharing Dispute: Recent Developments and Background

The Cauvery water sharing issue has once again gained prominence as the Tamil Nadu government seeks the intervention of the Supreme Court in urging Karnataka to release the stipulated amount of water from its reservoirs. The dispute involves multiple states and Union Territories, primarily Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Puducherry, and revolves around the allocation of Cauvery River water for various purposes such as irrigation, drinking water, and industrial use.

Cauvery River and Dispute Background: The Cauvery River, often referred to as the Dakshina Ganga, is a significant water body originating in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. It flows through several states and Union Territories, leading to a complex water sharing issue. The dispute dates back to 1892, originating between the Presidency of Madras and the Princely state of Mysore during British colonial rule.

The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) was established in 1990 to address the dispute formally. After 17 years of deliberation, the CWDT issued its final award in February 2007, allocating water quotas to the respective states and Union Territory. This award, however, did not provide a detailed formula for water sharing during periods of water scarcity due to insufficient rainfall.

Court Intervention and Final Award Modification: In 2013, the Supreme Court directed the central government to notify the CWDT's award. Tamil Nadu approached the Supreme Court through a special leave petition under Article 136 due to Karnataka's non-compliance with the tribunal's decision. In its 2018 judgment, the Supreme Court declared the Cauvery River a national asset and largely upheld the CWDT's water-sharing arrangements. The apex court's decision led to the creation of the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) to enforce the allocation.

Recent Developments and Dispute Flare-Up: Recent developments have once again brought the Cauvery water dispute to the forefront. The CWMA requested Karnataka to release a specific quantity of water over a 15-day period. However, Karnataka's refusal to adhere to the agreed-upon quantity from a previous meeting led to tensions. Karnataka justified its position by citing lower rainfall in the Cauvery catchment area, including Kerala, resulting in reduced inflow to its reservoirs.

Conclusion: The Cauvery water sharing issue remains a complex and ongoing dispute involving multiple states and Union Territories. With the involvement of the Supreme Court and various regulatory bodies, the allocation and management of Cauvery River water continue to be subjects of contention and negotiation, particularly during periods of water scarcity.

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