Cauvery Water Row: What’s the Cost of Loss? What’s the Solution?

Bengaluru has shown the entire country and the world that its streets are not as safe as was thought earlier, taking away the shine from it as IT capital of the country. More than the issue, the footage of burning Bengaluru has sent shockwaves across the country.

Let us take a look at it in monetary terms. Even if one litre costs Rs.10, then 15,000 cusecs of water per day costs Rs.42 lakh per day and in 20 days it translates into Rs.84 crore worth of water flow. But comparing it with the damage that has already unleashed in Bangalore alone, it has exceeded anybody’s imagination. It is roughly more than Rs.1,000 crore in direct loss. Just it makes mockery of our calculations.

The century-old dispute has now reached its pinnacle that failure to find an early solution will undo the entire fabric of whatever federalism woven into our Constitution. It is no longer an issue to be decided by expired agreements, political settlements or court verdicts.

The Cauvery issue traceable to 1892 and 1924 agreements has failed to bind the beneficiary states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherri, as the Cauvery Tribunal verdict in 2007 has been questioned by all the parties and the issue remains unresolved and resolving it amicably is just unfathomable at present.

While Kerala and Puducherry are in the periphery of the issue being minor beneficiaries, Tamil Nadu, the biggest beneficiary of the tribunal verdict wants the every drop of Cauvery it is entitled to.

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Goddess Kaveri, Statue at Kallanai Dam (Photo courtesy: Jayarathina)

Karnataka, despite being the state where the river originates, has been awarded less water while most of its cities and towns are dependent on Cauvery water for drinking purpose while agriculture is secondary. For Tamil Nadu, Cauvery water is key to its agricultural needs, not for drinking.

All that Karnataka needs is is a fair settlement to use Cauvery Water and in the absence of any agreeable tribunal verdict, perhaps a third party or even an international arbitration expert should be roped in to resolve the issue once and for all.

It is not new that water wars are looming large all over the world, including India and Pakistan over Indus water, which is under international arbitration. In such a situation, New Delhi cannot show its inertia for long and let ad-hoc solutions bleed Karnataka as it happened on Monday. It is high time an internal or international arbitration is sought.

It may be recalled that 200 water sharing agreements were signed all over the world since 1950 but only 37 cases of violation recorded, which is a fair record to go for an expert or scientific resolution to the bleeding problem over water.

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