Beyond tokenism

Theres need to resolve the Cauvery dispute now.


After many a hiccup, the two states have agreed that the great Tamil saint-poet Thiruvallavur’s statue will be unveiled in Bangalore on August 9 and as a reciprocatory gesture, a bronze statue of revolutionary Kannada poet Sarvajna will be unveiled in Chennai on August 13. An agreement to this effect entered into between Yeddyurappa and his Tamil Nadu counterpart, M Karunanidhi some time ago, has now found the stamp of approval by a cross section of Kannada writers and political leaders. Though the move has expectedly been opposed by some Kannada organisations, a great majority of Kannadigas will support the government’s sensible move, which will remove a long-festering irritant between the two states.

In fact, there is no reason why the two neighbouring states cannot resolve their other differences in the same spirit of mutual accommodation of their respective positions. The longest and the bitterest of their disputes is with regard to the sharing of the Cauvery river waters. It has dragged on for over a century and even the so-called ‘final award’ of a tribunal has failed to offer a satisfactory solution as the upper riparian state of Karnataka thought it was completely lop-sided and has all but refused to honour it. The tribunal’s award, which does not even consider the drinking water requirements of a growing city like Bangalore, let alone Karnataka’s legitimate irrigation needs was bound to meet the fate it has and possibly, even Tamil Nadu now realises the futility of pressing for its implementation ‘in toto.’

Building on the goodwill developed over the statue issue, perhaps it’s time for Yeddyurappa and Karunanidhi to sit together and find a solution to the Cauvery dispute as well. As intractable as it might appear, the two chief ministers can find a mutually acceptable ground to resolve the Cauvery dispute, if they go beyond narrow political considerations. It’s important to involve the farmers’ representatives and irrigation experts from outside the two states to find a lasting solution. The discussions should include the Hogenakal drinking water project, which Tamil Nadu has embarked upon and the Hogenakal hydro-electric project, which will benefit both the states enormously. That will be the beginning of a new era of friendship and cooperation between the two states.

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