Cauvery Water Issue 

Cauvery Water Issue 

This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “Cauvery Water Issue”. The topic “Cauvery Water Issue” has relevance in the “Polity and Governance” section of the UPSC CSE exam.

For Prelims:

River Cauvery and its Tributaries 

Inter State Water Disputes 

For Mains:

GS2:  Polity and Governance

Why in the news?

Recently, the Cauvery Water Management Authority has issued a directive to Karnataka, water into Billigundulu at the interstate border for the next 15 days.


The Cauvery River: A Geographical Overview

  • Origin: The Cauvery River, often referred to as ‘Dakshi Bharat ki Ganga’ or ‘the Ganga of the South,’ originates from Talakaveri on the Brahmagiri range in Karnataka’s Kodagu district, situated at an elevation of 1,341 meters.
  • Length and Course: It flows predominantly through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, covering a distance of 705 kilometers in a south-easterly direction.
  • Formation of a Delta: As the Cauvery River approaches its end, it divides into many smaller rivers, creating a large and fertile delta area. Eventually, these rivers join the Bay of Bengal by merging with the sea, south of Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu.
  • Geographical Extent: The Cauvery basin covers expansive regions of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and the Union Territory of Puducherry, encompassing a vast area of 81 thousand square kilometers.
  • Left Bank Tributaries: The Cauvery’s left bank receives contributions from various tributaries, including the Harangi, Hemavati, Shimsha, and Arkavati rivers.
  • Right Bank Tributaries: These tributaries include the Lakshmantirtha, Kabbani, Suvarnavati, Bhavani, Noyil, and Amaravati rivers, which enrich the main river’s water resources and ecological diversity.

What is Cauvery Water Dispute?

  • River Origin and Flow: The Cauvery River originates in Karnataka’s Kodagu district and flows into Tamil Nadu before reaching the Bay of Bengal.
  • 1892: Genesis of the Dispute: The dispute began in 1892 between the Madras Presidency (under British rule) and the Princely state of Mysore. It started when Madras opposed Mysore’s plan to construct irrigation systems, citing concerns about its impact on water flow into Tamil Nadu.
  • 1924: A Temporary Resolution: In 1924, the dispute neared resolution as Mysore and Madras reached an agreement allowing Mysore to build a dam in Kannambadi village. bThis agreement was valid for 50 years and set for review. Karnataka subsequently built the Krishnaraja Sagar dam based on this pact.
  • 1974: Lapse of the 1924 Agreement: The 1924 water-sharing agreement between the former Madras Presidency and the Princely State of Mysore (now Tamil Nadu and Karnataka) expired after its 50-year term.
  • 1990: Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal: To adjudicate the Cauvery water dispute among the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and the Union Territory of Puducherry, the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal was established.
  • 2007: Tribunal’s Final Award: In 2007, the tribunal issued its final award, allocating 419 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water to Tamil Nadu, more than double the interim order of 1991.
  • 2016: Tamil Nadu’s Water Deficit Claim: In 2016, Tamil Nadu claimed a deficit of 50.0052 tmcft of water released from Karnataka, citing inadequate rainfall. Tamil Nadu sought the intervention of the Supreme Court.
  • 2017: Supreme Court’s Directive: In 2017, the Supreme Court ordered Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water per day to Tamil Nadu for ten days. This directive led to widespread protests and bandhs in Karnataka.
  • Continued Supreme Court Involvement: Following modifications, the Supreme Court ordered Karnataka to release 2,000 cusecs of water per day to Tamil Nadu until further notice.
  • 2018: Final Supreme Court Verdict: In 2018, the apex court issued its final verdict, granting Karnataka an additional 14.75 TMC of river water and reducing Tamil Nadu’s share to 177.25 TMC from the previously allocated 192 TMC. The court considered Bengaluru’s water scarcity while delivering the judgment and emphasized the importance of adhering to its orders by all states involved.


Constitutional Provisions for Inter-State Water Disputes

Article 262 of the Constitution addresses the resolution of water disputes among states. The key points are:

  • Adjudication of Disputes
      • Article 262(1) allows Parliament to pass laws for settling disputes or complaints related to the use, distribution, or control of water in inter-State rivers or river valleys.
  • Exclusivity of Jurisdiction
    • Article 262(2) grants Parliament the authority to declare that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court can have jurisdiction over such disputes mentioned in above. 


Share the distress: The Hindu Editorial on Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and water rights 

plutus ias current affairs eng med 1st Sep 2023


Q1. With reference to Interstate Water Disputes, consider the following statements: 

  1. The Constitution enables Parliament and Legislative Assemblies to create rules for resolving problems about how water is shared in rivers that flow through valleys between states.
  2. As per the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction over Interstate Water Disputes.

Which of the statements given above is/are NOT correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 and 2 

Answer: (a) 


Q2. Consider the following: 

  1. Harangi
  2. Hemavati
  3. Ghataprabha
  4. Malaprabha
  5. Amaravati
  6. Musi

How many of the following are tributaries of River Cauvery?

(a) Only three

(b) Only four

(c) Only five

(d) All six

Answer: (a)

Q3. Discuss the constitutional provisions and mechanisms available in India for the resolution of interstate water disputes. Evaluate their effectiveness and suggest possible reforms. 

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