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Fresh Steps Put Forth for Cauvery Water Impasse
Cauvery water dispute is not a fresh dispute arising out of nowhere, but is based on several historicalevinces. The real eruption of dispute lies in signing of two controversial agreements between Madras Presidency and Princely State of Mysore in the year 1892 and 1924 respectively. The 802 km Cauveri River has 32,000 sq km basin area lying in the Karnataka and 44,000 sq km basin area, which lies in the Tamil Nadu. Though there have been several problems and fights over the distribution of Cauveri river water distribution, fresh disputes flared up in the summers of 2002, when the monsoon season played hide and seek in the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. An interim award was signed under the Cauveri tribunal, but the real fact is that the interim award has been ignored several times by Karnataka government.
The years 2004, 2005 and 2006 seemed to have good monsoon season and this played crucial role in keeping the chaos between Karnataka and Tami Nadu at bay as far as water distribution was concerned. The term of the tribunal, which initially seemed to get over in August 2005, but in wake of the many arguments that remain pending in the court, the tribunal filed a request for extending the term, and it hold the validity until September 2006. However, it was in year 2006, a major disagreement erupted over the 'Assessor's report' that seemingly found its way to the press. The report had recommended a decision which wasinstantly rejected by Karnataka state. Another argumentexploded when few months before the September 2006 deadline, the tribunal had urged for the formation of another expert committee with the purpose to analyze 'ground realities' yet again. This was totally and vehemently opposed by all the four states party who formed the part of dispute.
Apart from the disapproval received, the new expert committee which was proposed turned out to be a major disappointment for the tribunal itself. The worst part came out where the Chief Judge also opposed the development of expert committee.
The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal proclaimed its final verdict on 5 February 2007, wherein Tamil Nadu gets 419 billion ft³ (12 km³) of Cauvery water while Karnataka will hold 270 billion ft³ (7.6 km³). The actual release of water by Karnataka to Tamil Nadu is to be 192 billion ft³ (5.4 km³) annually. As per the verdict, Kerala will get 30 billion ft³ and Pondicherry will receive 7 billion ft³. Tamil Nadu appears to have been accepting the verdict whereas the government of Karnataka, hopeless with the choice, filed a revision petition.
Several Kannada organizations, under the name “Kannada Okkoota”, called a Karnataka bandh (close down) on October 6 in dissents against the Cauveri water release. On Oct 8, 2012, Supreme Court of India has announced the release of 9000 cusecs has to be continued and it is responsibility of the CRA head, the Prime Minister, who in return ruled out a review of the Cauvery River Authority’s (CRA) decision asking Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs of water daily to Tamil Nadu till October 20, refusingand ignoring the plea by both the Congress and BJP leaders from Karnataka. But, within hours of Prime Minister’s decision, the Karnataka government stopped the release of Cauvery water to state of Tamil Nadu.
On Oct 9, 2012, Tamil Nadu chief minister focused authorities to directly file a contempt petition contrary to the Karnataka government act for breaking the verdict of the Supreme Court by individuallydiscontinuing the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.On Oct 17, 2012, Tamil Nadu made a renewed plea in the Supreme Court repeating its request for issuing suitable directions to Karnataka to make deficit of 48 tmcft of water in accordance with distress sharing formula. On Nov 15, 2012, The Cauvery Monitoring Committee, made the decision to the Karnataka government to release 4.81 tmcft to Tamil Nadu between November 16 and 30, 2012. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh heads the CRA panel, consisting of the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Pondicherry.
"The people of Karnataka are confronting with scarcity of water. We are presently not in a position to give water to Tamil Nadu. We also discussed how to present the real picture of Karnataka in front of the Supreme Court, federal government and Cauvery Monitoring Committee. We are planning to put forth our water rights before the water bodies," said BJP leader Ananth Kumar.
Meanwhile, it seems imminent that Karnataka has provided the plea before the CRA with the purpose of reassessing its order in wake of rain shortage and prevailing drought-like situation in the area. It would entirely depend upon how CRA how and what final decision is put into the action for sorting out the real differences and put across real time solution right away.
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