Cauvery and the politics over water

Cauvery and the politics over water

Submitted by alvin on Sat, 2016-09-24 09:39 Out of the total length of the river (800km), 320 km falls in Karnataka, 416 km in Tamil Nadu and parts of the river flow through Puducherry and Kerala. The most important part of any river basin is the catchment area (81,155 sq km), of which 34,273 sq km is in Karnataka and 43,867 sq km in Tamil Nadu, the rest is in the other two states. This means that Tamil Nadu also contributes very heavily to the river. Karnataka has 3 dams, so does Tamil Nadu. The total storage capacity in Karnataka is 104 TMC and Tamil Nadu, 136 TMC. The approximate irrigated land in Karnataka is around 8 to11 lakh acres. In Tamil Nadu, it is 25 lakh acres with 11 lakh acres of forest land being converted into farm land. Karnataka has 2 crop cycles whereas Tamil Nadu has 3 (commercial crops).  Karnataka’s total requirement is 81 TMC which includes drinking water and irrigation. Tamil Nadu, in a good year, has always received around 20 TMC of water. The dispute has always been a recurring feature when Jayalalithaa has been the chief minister of Tamil Nadu. Her demand is political. She insists that farmers be able to sow their 3rd crop.  Karnataka, on the other hand, has, by law, not allowed the farmers to sow more than 2 crops. This year, the rainfall in Tamil Nadu has been normal (223 mm) whereas in Karnataka there has been a 17�hortfall.  The inflow in the respective basins is as follows:   Jayalalithaa was born in Mysuru and grew up in Bengaluru. So she is a Kannadiga by birth. It seems to me that she wants to prove to the people of Tamil Nadu that she is more Tamilian than Tamilians. The earlier CMs namely Annadurai, MG Ramachandran and Karunanidhi have always believed in a negotiated settlement. But Jayalalithaa believes in approaching the court first. This unfortunately has created misunderstanding between the people of the 4 states. For an equitable sharing of water, a distress-formula had to be envisioned, but this has not happened. The bone of contention is the third crop. Karnataka has limited farmers to two crops per annum whereas Tamil Nadu has insisted on having a third crop, irrespective of Karnataka having a shortfall of rain. This is a high-handed approach of the Tamil Nadu government and the sitting judge of the Supreme Court, Uday Lalit, who represented both Jayalalithaa and Amit Shah in their criminal cases. The SC judge should have recused himself on the grounds of ‘conflict of interest’. This has created a suspicion in the minds of the Kannadigas that both the BJP and AIADMK, which is part of the ruling NDA, have joined hands to give Karnataka, which is ruled by the Congress Party, a raw deal. Ultimately, Narendra Modi and Jayalalithaa need to appreciate that 18 of the BJP MPs are part of the central government. This short-sighted approach by Modi and Jayalalithaa only reinforces the peoples’ belief that ‘vote-bank politics’ is more important than drinking water. Author: Kengal Shreepada Renu, spokesperson of the Congress party has a great lineage. He is the grandson of Kengal Hanumanthaiah, second chief minister of Karnataka. He was responsible for the construction of Vidhana Soudha. Yet, Shreepada Renu keeps an absolute low profile.  Born in Bengaluru to Dr T Thimmaiah, a retired bureaucrat, Shreepada graduated in engineering from UVCE and has done MBA in International Finance from University of Central Oklahoma, US. He was a former Ranaji player and is also an expert on policy matters.