A week back (on 5th February, 2007) he three-member Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal headed by Justice N P Singh gave its verdict. In the much-awaited final verdict after almost 17 years of hearings, the Tribunal allocated 419 tmc ft of the Cauvery river water annually to Tamil Nadu, 270 tmc ft to Karnataka, 30 tmc ft to Kerala and 7 tmc ft to Pondicherry.
This is a verdict that has left me baffled. It’s a known fact that both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu need more water if they are to continue with the rate at which the land under irrigation has been growing. Unfortunately, its also a known fact that increasing the land under irrigation does not increase the amount of water that the river can provide. Both states have been bringing in more are under irrigation (and TN has been the fastest), as that has been the yardstick that the tribunal has looked at while awarding the share of water to states.
The verdict means that tomorrow if Tamil Nadu brings a few thousand hectares of land under irrigation, it can again demand another tribunal and demand yet more water. Sure there will be some camera footages of dried crops (see these crops dried because we did not get more water from Karnataka), all the while the fact that these are areas that were added so that you can get more water will never find a mention.
Both states will want to increase the area under irrigation; but while human greed knows no bounds, the quantum of water available is limited. Under these circumstances, the tribunal could not have given an order that satisfies everyone, the least it could have done was to give an order that at least had some semblance to justice being done to everyone concerned.
The present order is (unfortunately) heavily skewed in favor of Tamil Nadu (looks like the footages of dry crops had an effect after all). Tamil Nadu gets 57.7% (419 TMC ft) of water while having only 36.9% (12,790 km2) of drought area in Basin and contributing only 31.8% (252 TMC ft) of water to the river. Karnataka on the other hand contributes 53.8% (425 TMC ft) of water and despite having 63.1% (21,870 km2) of drought area in the basin, gets only 37.2% (270 TMC ft) of water.
Human greed knows no bounds, and left to themselves both the states will try to increase the area under irrigation to crazy levels and then one of them will end up moving the tribunal alleging that its crops are drying because there is no water. A good solution might be to consider the length of the river in each state and award a share in proportion to that, or look at the contribution each state makes. The present formula that depends on the area under irrigation is a flawed one, and will only lead to another round of fight when each state takes the area under irrigation to unsustainable levels (yet again)
Reminds me of what my friend Po (She is from Coorg, Karnataka – the place where the river Kaveri originates) told me a few days back “The place where she (the river) originates, people don’t have enough water and looks like everyone else wants more water”. Well Po, looks like Tamil Nadu has managed to deny you the right to water, maybe time to get used to it.
Posted under: Thoughts
Tagged with: Cauvery, Dispute, final, Kaveri, Tribunal, verdict, Water