It is ironical to observe that even though the Supreme Court has instructed the Central Government to form the Cauvery Management Board with a view to sharing the Cauvery water between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu amicably, the Central Government keeps on dodging the issue for one reason or the other. This has obviously led to various protests in TN. Apart from this negligence, Karnataka seems to be bent upon cheating TN when it comes to sharing the water reasonably. The net outcome is TN gets neither any lawful right to demand its share nor any water practically from Karnataka.
What is further pitiable is that there is an alternative solution to this Cauvery water dispute between Karnataka and TN, assuring around 900 TMC water from a different plan of water course which is rather not yet accepted and approved by either Karnataka or TN CMs. The TN agricultural community does feel that the Central Government is wantonly not considering this solution – may be, because if the Cauvery dispute is resolved, they may not be in a position to implement methane and hydro carbon factories in the delta regions.
The Cauvery Protection Committee Head, Sundara Vimalanathan of Swamimalai further shares that the river Cauvery is the life force of all delta regions in TN. The water is not only used for agriculture but also for drinking purpose in about 14 districts. The dams being built in Megadadu and Rasimanal by Karnataka Government are a serious threat to our due right to share Cauvery water. In fact, 177 TMC water is required to be given to TN by Karnataka as per SC direction which is why the constitution of Cauvery Management Board has since been advocated by SC with no unclear terms. However, the Central Government is yet to implement this plan, much to the dismay and agony of TN people due to certain political reasons. Despite all these odds, the new alternative plan has been mooted out and submitted to the Central and State Governments for their purview.
It is further observed that Karnataka had 7 lakhs acre of cultivable land which it has since gradually increased to 20 lakhs acre in about 40 years. According to 1972 Central Government Fact Finding Committee, TN and Puducherry have 28.21 lakhs acre of cultivable land; Karnataka has 6.81 lakhs acre and Kerala 53,000 acres. It is also learnt that Retd. Cauvery River Tracking Committee Engineer Natarajan of Tamil Nadu had already submitted a valuable proposal to the Government ten years ago.
He says that Karnataka gets water from 7 rivers, viz. 966.44 TMC from Krishna river, 425 TMC from Cauvery, 49.9 TMC from Godavari, 906 TMC from Vada Pennai, Then Pennai and Palaaru rivers. Besides this, water from nearly 13 rivers that run westwards passes on to Arabian sea. Of these rivers, nearly 2000 TMC water can be obtained from Kali river, Saravathi, Chakra rivers, Nethravathi, Varahi and Mahadhai rivers. It is, therefore, easier for Karnataka to divert 900 TMC water to TN without any difficulty.
This apart, Karnataka is favourably placed in terms of natural hills and mountains in the region of western ghats to prevent the rain water from going a waste. Dikes and canals can be built in such a way that the rain water can easily be brought to TN. Moreover, this water can be diverted to the adjacent dams like Hemavathi and Harangi so that when the water is collected abundantly the same will automatically reach Krishnasagar dam from which the excess water can be routed to TN by avoiding inundation problem also. Thus this solution is a sure shot to help TN get sufficient water from Karnataka.
This wise suggestion was put forward by Bhavani Sankar, Karnataka Government Chief Engineer of PWD and Special Advisor to Government, which is of no avail so far. Unfortunately, there was heavy opposition to his move and hardly could he do anything more. If his suggestion is implemented, it would not only put a full stop to TN water issue but also the entire prolonged Cauvery dispute. Further, this would help Karnataka Government to save Rs.4,500/- crore in building a dam across Rasimanal river as they will also get adequate water from this plan.
He further confirms having sent a detailed letter to the office of the Prime Minister; sought an appointment with PM; explained to the Water Management Department Minister including Central Ministers like Pon.Radhakrishnan, Tamizhisai Soundararajan, H.Raja, Vanathi Srinivasan etc. Most unfortunately, no one has shown any interest in implementing this project. The Supreme Court has also not given due consideration to this alternative suggestion; on the contrary, it has confirmed without any proper assessment that the ground water level in TN is fairly good. He openly feels that none of them has even accepted this proposal for due consideration, leave alone implementation. Under the circumstances it is feared that the people will lose credibility on the part of Supreme Court if it seems to merely implement the Central Government directions. Yet he is confident that one day or the other, this will find some recognition.
Next the Karur District Secretary of Ground Water & Drainage Impact of agriculturists association, Ramalingam shares that in the year 1980, when Smt.Indira Gandhi was the PM, the Water Development Agency was instituted based on which the excess water experienced by any reservoir must be duly shared with the ones which had less water. On this basis only, a reservoir was built in Godavari river and the height of the dam in Nagarjuna sagar was increased. Thus both the Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh State Governments benefited from that whereas TN had failed to follow suit. Reservoirs of 10 TMC capacity was liberally increased to 60 TMC capacity reservoirs. As a consequence of this, TN is now holding the begging bowl to Karnataka Government just for 192 TMC water.
The tragedy is that due to decaying agricultural operations in TN, especially in regard to rice, we do not find TN ponni rice variety ; instead we often find Andhra Ponni and Karnataka Ponni rice variety in the shops. It is true that if we follow the western practice of bringing water through pumping , our TN agriculture would certainly grow and sustain. If we implement this project, the water that would otherwise go waste towards west direction in Karnataka and reach the sea, would flow towards TN and help TN agriculture flourish. It is understood that this project has already been communicated to PM and discussed with both the CMs of Karnataka and TN. He vehemently says that the concerned heads do not want to resolve this perennial issue at all for fear of losing the political issue behind it. However, he also sounds unrelented until a permanent solution is found out.
Needless to conclude that we should not harm the hands that feed us!
(This article written in Tamil by Durai.Vembaiyaan has been reproduced in English by P.S.Ramamurthy)