Evolve Cauvery distress formula

Evolve Cauvery distress formula

The unresolved dispute over sharing of Cauvery river waters with the neighbouring Tamil Nadu has once again come to haunt Karnataka. With the failure of monsoon this year, Karnataka was already reeling under a severe water crisis and a heavy demand on its scarce reserves was the last thing it wanted. But, with the Supreme Court directing the state to release 15,000 cusecs of water per day over the next 10 days (around 13 TMCft or thousand
million cubic feet), Karnataka has begun complying with the order “with a heavy heart, despite severe distress and hardship” being faced by the state. Karnataka has done well to honour the judicial order. The decision, however, has caused a lot of heartburn among farmers in the Cauvery basin, who had been told last week that water supply to their standing crops on 20,000 acres was being temporarily suspended to conserve water for drinking purposes. The state government has since reversed this decision. Emotions are running high and the road traffic between Bengaluru and Mysuru has been disrupted by angry farmers. The state government has appealed for calm, which should be heeded and there should be no room for violence.

The crux of the problem is that the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal which took 16 years to come up with its final award in 2007, failed to evolve a ‘distress formula’ to be adopted during years of water shortage. When there is bountiful rainfall, nobody complains and in fact, a lot of fresh water drains out into the sea, as it happened in 2014. Karnataka has faced one of the worst droughts this season and KRS, the main reservoir, has only 17.86 TMCft as against its full capacity of 47 TMCft with bleak prospects of any additional inflow until next June. As Cauvery is also the main source of drinking water for a population of around 130 lakh in Bengaluru, Mysuru and other urban pockets in the region, the state may be forced to adopt curtailed supplies to tide over the situation.

Now that the Supreme Court is seized of the matter, it should go beyond issuing
interim orders. The Tribunal had asked the parties to the dispute to share the deficiency on a pro rata basis, but did not offer a concrete formula. A time has come for the apex court to settle this issue to the satisfaction of all concerned. The court should ask the Central Water Commission, which has all the technical expertise, to come up with a formula taking into account the water status in various reservoirs in the Cauvery basin, and pronounce a judicial order binding on all the states. That, hopefully, will remove some of the uncertainties.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)