Cauvery Water Dispute: All you need to know about the 100-year war

On February 16, a special bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra pronounced the verdict on appeals filed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala against the final award of the Cauvery Waters tribunal in 2007 on the allocation of water to the three states. The verdict comes in favour of Karnataka. The Cauvery river water sharing dispute dates back to the 19th century which has been a ground for conflict among the four states – Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry.

History of Cauvery Water Dispute

The Cauvery water dispute has been a ground for war for over a century now.

  • 1892: Madras and Mysore signed an agreement but conflicts exploded.
  • 1924: An agreement was signed by the Government of India to bring peace between the two states.
  • 1986: Tamil Nadu government requested the government to form a tribunal to solve the conflict.
  • 1990: The Cauvery Waters Tribunal was established by the Central Government.
  • 2007: The tribunal gave its verdict on the sharing of water between the four states – Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry. It allocated 270 billion ft³ (7.6 km³) to Karnataka, 419 billion ft³ (12 km³) of water to Tamil Nadu, 30 billion ft³ (0.8 km³) of water to Kerala and 7 billion ft³ (0.2 km³) to Puducherry. The decision was later challenged by the states.
  • 2012: The then Prime Minister and Chairman of the Cauvery River Authority ordered Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs of water daily to Tamil Nadu. Which the state refused to do. The Supreme Court slammed Karnataka Government for not following the order of the directive.
  • 2016: After Karnataka failed to obey the apex court’s order, Tamil Nadu filed a petition against the state and after which on September 12, the court directed Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu for 10 days and asked the state to ‘live and let live’.
  • 2017: On January 10, Supreme Court directed Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to file affidavits of witness to examine Tamil Nadu’s plea seeking Rs 2,500 crore compensation for loss of crops. On July 14, Karnataka sought a reduction in the quantum of Cauvery water it should release to Tamil Nadu from 192 tmcft to 132 tmcft. On September 20, the court reserved its judgement filed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala on the allocation of the river water to the three states.
  • 2018: In the much-awaited verdict, the Supreme Court on Friday pronounced that Karnataka be given 14.75 TMC of the river water while 177.25 TMC of water be released for Tamil Nadu. The court further said that 20 TMC of groundwater in Tamil Nadu had not been accounted for and hence needed to be seen.

What prompted the violence?

  • Karnataka argued that Tamil Nadu’s claims of agony are ‘fake’ and the state itself is going through water crises due to poor rainfall.
  • While Tamil Nadu, in its defence, argued that the farmers are in desperate need of water for Samba crop.

Life of common people disturbed

  • Educational institutions declared a holiday, government employees were said it’s ‘not compulsory’ for them to work and private offices either declared a holiday or allowed ‘work from home’.
  • Government buses, cabs, auto-rickshaws and metro services also contributed in the ‘bandh’. Unavailability of public transport made difficult for people travelling from distant places.
  • Hotels, petrol pumps, banks, and banks remained shut.
  • In Mandya, protesters blocked the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway that connects the two states resulting in a major traffic jam.
  • More than 6 vehicles bearing Tamil Nadu registration number were burnt in Bengaluru and Mysuru.
  • A student was thrashed by a group of protesters for posting derogatory remarks on social media against Kannada film actors for participating in the protest.

Chennai hotel owned by Kannadiga, vandalised

  • On September 12, a gang of unidentified men hurled petrol-filled bottles at New Woodlands Hotel owned by Kannadiga. Fortunately, no one was injured. These men also stuck a message written in Tamil warning Kannada people not to harm Tamilians.

Section 144 imposed in Bengaluru

  • The state government imposed section 144 of the CrPC at 1700 hours onwards from September 12 to September 14.
  • The same was confirmed by Bengaluru City Police on Twitter.

Maintain peace: Karnataka CM

  • Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and State Home Minister G Parameshwara have urged people to maintain peace.

Letter to CM

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah wrote a letter to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha expressing concern regarding the incidents of violence against Kannada speaking people in Tamil Nadu. He added that the Karnataka government is committed ‘to maintaining law and order in the state’. He further assured her that amid the ongoing violence the interests of Tamils in the state would be safeguarded.

The Supreme Court has announced their next date of hearing on September 20, 2016. Meanwhile, we can just hope the issue blows over soon!

(The article was originally published on September 13, 2016.)

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