With the Cauvery issue heating up in Karnataka, there has been a lot of discomfort in the state and Bangalore, the city so green and well known for its peaceful life has been crumbling with curfews and violent protests. This is the only dispute that still persists in the country from before the days of Independence.
HERE IS WHAT THE DISPUTE IS ALL ABOUT:
The Cauvery river originates in Kodagu district of Karnataka. It flows into Tamil Nadu and reaches the Bay of Bengal at Poompuhar. Some parts of three South Indian states, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka and Pondicherry lie in the Cauvery river basin. The legal dispute first originated through the agreements signed in 1892 and 1924 between the state of Mysore and the Madras Presidency. After an order from the Supreme Court, the Centre constituted the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) in 1990 to resolve the dispute. The tribunal gave Tamil Nadu 205 thousand million cubic feet in an interim order in 1991.
In 2007, the tribunal declared its final award that the state of Tamil Nadu should receive 419 thousand million cubic feet of water, more than double the amount mentioned in the interim order. The verdict required Karnataka to release 192 thousand million cubic feet of water to Tamil Nadu in ten monthly installments every year. The Centre made the notification of the award public only in 2013, after the Supreme Court ordered it do so. Before the order in 2007, Tamil Nadu had asked for 562 thousand million cubic feet which was approximately three-fourths of the water available in the Cauvery basin and Karnataka had asked for 465 thousand million cubic feet which was around two-thirds of the available water.
This August, the Tamil Nadu government said that there was a deficit of 50.0052 thousand million cubic feet of water released from Karnataka reservoirs, with respect to the minimum limit directed by the CDWT. The Karnataka government said it wouldn’t be able to release any more Cauvery water because low rainfall during the monsoon had left its reservoirs half-empty. Tamil Nadu then sought the apex court’s intervention saying its farmers needed the water to begin cultivating samba crops. On 5th September, the Supreme Court ordered the Karnataka government to release 15,000 cusecs of water a day for 10 days, to Tamil Nadu. This order triggered violent protests and bandhs in Karnataka. Farmers there said they didn’t have enough water for their own farms. Properties in Tamil Nadu were also damaged.
On this account, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah wrote to the PM Narendra Modi on 9th September saying that releasing 15,000 cusecs of Cauvery water would totally deprive Bengaluru of the river’s basin of drinking water. He also said that the prolonged unrest would hurt the state’s IT sector, and noted that even the state BJP had asked his government not to implement the Supreme Court’s order.
On Monday, the Karnataka government filed a plea to the Supreme Court. The Karnataka government requested the apex court to suspend its order directing it to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, because the latter isn’t having a water crisis. The Karnataka government told the court that the agony claimed by Tamil Nadu on the water crisis doesn’t exist and the Supreme Court refused to suspend that order. This reduced the amount of water Karnataka has to release to Tamil Nadu, to 12,000 cusecs a day from 15,000 cusecs a day, and directed it to release the water until 20th September. While this was happening, the apex court expressed its displeasure on the Karnataka government for not implementing its order.
“Citizen and the executive of this country have to accept and obey the order of the SC unless it is modified. If the court passes an order, either comply or come for modification. People cannot take law into their hand,” Justice Dipak Misra said.
An attack took place in the early hours of Monday as a mob belonging to a pro-Tamil outfit hurled six petrol bombs at the New Woodlands Hotel on Dr Radhakrishnan Salai. Within hours, at least 60 buses and trucks bearing Tamil Nadu registration numbers were set on fire in Bengaluru, Mysore, Mandya, Chitradurga and Dharwad districts and their crew beaten up.
Last night, mobs were seen burning Tamil Nadu registered trucks and buses in Bengaluru and on a highway to Mysore and protesters also vandalized public property, including shops.
Soon, mobs took over the streets in western and southern parts of Bengaluru, indulging in arson and rioting while cops helplessly appealed for peace on Twitter.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pained by this unsettling dispute and he urged sensitivity and restraint.