Some Cauvery Imperatives and Questions
1. Cauvery basin yields in reality don't seem to be what the Cauver
Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) or other agencies treat as a baseline.
Considering 740 TMC feet as 'normal' seems unrealistic given recent
patterns. There are very few years when 740 TMC feet is the 'yield',
Would a 'fresh' basin study and estimation help reset this?
2. "Distress' sharing: There needs to be a clear 'derating'
curve for sub-normal years for whatever the 'allocated' figures to the
states are (either what comes out a re-survey/fresh study of the basin
or the current figures of the CWDT final report) to handle 'deficit'
years. In other words, distress sharing needs to be defined as a clear
table/curve, whether for the current baseline or anything that comes out
of a 'fresh' study. This seems to be a very major gap in what the CWDT
came up with in 2007 (and was notified in 2013) and has been repeatedly
called out by the involved parties.
2. There is some 'sense of injustice' which is what the political
parties in Karnataka keep plumbing to create violence and riots - which
really needs to be explored and understood. Historic precedents set at
the time of 'agreements' between the then privileged Madras Presidency
and the vassal state of Mysore - probably do not do justice to any
'current' arrangement. Even if this does not mean influencing the
sharing formula in some other way - this needs to be acknowledged
officially and the seemingly unfair 'sledging' of the state by the
Supreme Court and all kinds of other parties at every opportunity must
be moved away from. It just exacerbates the 'sense of wrong' and helps
stir up all kinds of negative sentiments.
3. Irrespective of all of the above, there needs to be a clear policy
move away from tapping an already scarce and endangered river any
further and there need to be directed, wholistic policy measures that
will enable moving towards freezing use of Cauvery river water at
current or close to current levels (status quo). This could involve
several things including, on priority, resuscitating other water sources
in the entire basin area, restoring the disturbed watershed,
incentivizing less water intensive cropping in the entire basin area and
so on. Yes, this will all be terribly contentious ... accusations of
arresting 'development' etc especially in water guzzling cities such as
Bengaluru ... but eventually the fact of finite resources can only be
ignored by burying ones head in the sand.