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Some Cauvery Imperatives and Questions

Sep 2016


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.