India’s Superpower Euphoria CLXXIII
30 12 10 Written by navanavonmilita
KWDT award on surplus water sharing today
TNN, Dec 30, 2010, 12.15am IST
Tags:Scheme B|KWDT|Bachawat Commission|award
BANGALORE: The Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) will pronounce its award on the sharing of surplus water of the Krishna river between riparian states Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh on Thursday.
The KWDT headed by retired Supreme Court judge Brijesh Kumar was constituted in 2004, but started functioning in 2007. The tribunal can be said to be an offshoot of the Bachawat commission that delved into the sharing of Krishna waters by the three states.
The commission gave its award in 1973 which was gazetted (for states to implement) by the Centre in 1976. While in its earlier report it had proposed two schemes, the final award addressed itself only to scheme A.
This scheme pertained to sharing of water on 75% dependability, while Scheme B pertained to division of surplus water. The total quantum of water available for sharing was 2,060 tmc.
Under 75% dependability, Karnataka was allocated 700 tmc, Andhra Pradesh 800 tmc and Maharashtra 560 tmc. Besides, the states were allowed to use regeneration or return flows, and hence the total quantum available to Karnataka was 734 tmc.
Of this, Upper Krishna Project was allotted 173 tmc. Under Scheme B, the total water available for sharing was 330 tmc.
Readers’ opinions (1)
1 hr ago (05:17 PM)
Now Karnataka will have to give Kaveri water to Tamil Nadu as per Interim verdict by Kaveri tribunal, otherwise Maharashtra will not obey the verdict same like karnataka, infact it is Karnataka’s birth habit to not follow the rules if it is for others and follow if it is for them, how selfish state. So, follow the things everywhere.
Agree (1)Disagree (1)
Krishna River Water Dispute Tribunal
1. The Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) was constituted on 2nd April, 2004 for adjudication of the dispute relating to sharing of waters of Inter-State River Krishna and river valleys thereof. Shri Justice Brijesh Kumar, Judge of Supreme Court of India (now retired) is the Chairman of the Tribunal and Shri Justice S. P. Srivastava, Judge of the Allahabad High Court (now retired) and Shri Justice D.K. Seth, Judge of the Kolkata High Court (now retired) are Members of the Tribunal.
2. The KWDT passed orders on June 9, 2006 on the Interim Relief Application filed by the party States of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh declining to give interim relief as sought in the application and at the same time indicating certain norm with a view to facilitate adjudication of the dispute before the Tribunal. Subsequently, State of Andhra Pradesh filed Interlocutory Application under Section 5(3) of the ISRWD Act, 1956 seeking further explanation/guidance on the Order of the Tribunal of June 9, 2006. The Tribunal in its hearing held in September and October, 2006 has framed 29 of issues for adjudication of the dispute before it. Further hearing of the Tribunals is continuing. The terms of tribunal has been extended up to April 1st, 2009 as per the provisions of ISRWD Act, 1956 and the tribunal is to give its decision & report by that time.
The Inter-State River Water Dispute Act-1956
In order to promote integrated and optimum development of waters of inter-state rivers and river valleys, under Entry 56 of List-I of the Constitution, Parliament has enacted the River Boards Act, 1956. This act contemplated the appointment of river boards by the central government in consultation with the state governments. It is expected that these boards would help in coordinated and optimum utilization of river waters and promote development of irrigation, drainage, water supply. Food control and hydro-electric power.
As per the Act the “Water dispute” means any dispute or difference between two or more state governments with respect to:
a) The use, distribution or control of waters of, or in any inter-state river or river valley; or
b) The interpretation of the terms of any agreement relating to the use distribution or control of such water or the implementation of such agreement; or
c) The levy of any water rate in contravention of the prohibition contained in the Act.
If it appears to the government of any state that a water dispute with the government of another state has arisen or is likely to arise by reason of the fact that interest of the state, or if any of the inhabitants there of in the waters of an inter-state river or river valley have been, or are likely to be, affected prejudicially by:-
a) any executive action or legislation taken or passed or proposed to be taken or passed by the other state; or,
b) the failure of the other state or any of their power with respect to the use, distribution or control of such waters; or
c) the failure of other state to implement the terms of any agreement relating to the use, distribution or control of such water, the state govt. may, in such form and manner as may be prescribed, request the Central Government to refer the water dispute to a Tribunal for adjudication.
When any request is received from any State Government in respect of any water dispute and the Central Government shall, within a period not exceeding one year from the date of receipt of such request, by notification in the official Gazette constitute a Water Dispute Tribunal for the adjudication of the water dispute. Such Tribunal shall investigate the matters referred to it and forward to the Central Government a report setting out the facts as found by it and giving its decision on the matters referred to it within a period of three years. It the members of the Tribunal differ in opinion on any point, the point shall be decided by the majority. The Tribunal shall have the some powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, in respect of the following matters namely:
summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on both;
requiring the discovery and production of documents and material objects;
issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or for legal investigation;
any other matter which may be prescribed
Under the Act-1956 the union government has set up many water Tribunals like the Krishna Tribunal, the Narmada Tribunal, The Godavari Tribunal, the Cauveri Tribunal, The Ravi, Beas Tribunal etc. But the main problem with respect to Tribunals is inordinate delay at every stage. Even the inability of the states to have a dispute referred to a Tribunal unless the union government is satisfied that no negotiated settlement is possible, causes delay. Generally delay occurs at three states- 1) in setting up the Tribunal 2) in the announcement of the award and 3) in implementation of the award.
In the last few decades it has been apparent that only the formation of Tribunals and their suggestions are not sufficient to cope with the problem of river-water sharing. The awards of different Tribunal are not backed by enforcing mechanism. Recently the dispute over the implementation of the Cauveri Tribunal has once again flamed this issue. In 1998 the Parliamentary Standing committee on Water Resources, chaired by former union minister for rural area and employment, Mr. K. Yerran Naidu, in its report, urged the government to come forward with a legislation to transfer the subject of “Water “ from the State List to the Concurrent List. The committee observed that the ministry of water resources had been rendered weak and ineffective in getting, various resources projects implemented within a time frame in view of the original constitutional role it had to play. The committee said drastic and remedial measures would have to be undertaken within a time frame lest all progress on this front should come to a standstill. The Sarkaria Commission on centre-state relation had made recommendations for amendments to the existing Inter-State Water Dispute Act, 1956.
Constitutional and legal provisions
India is union of States. The constitutional provisions in respect of allocation of responsibilities between the State and Centre fall into three categories: The Union List (List-I), the State List (List-II) and the Concurrent List (List-III). Article 246 of the Constitution deals with subject matter of laws to be made by Parliament and by Legislature of the States. As most of the rivers in the country are inter-State, the regulation and development of water is matter included in Entry is subject to the provision of Entry 56 of List-I i.e Union List. The specific provisions in this reagard are under:
1. Article 246: 1) Notwithstanding anything in clauses (2) and (3), Parliament has exclusive power to make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in List I in the Seventh Schedule (in this Constitution referred to as “Union List”).
1. Notwithstanding anything in clauses ( 3), Parliament, and subject to clause (1), the legislature of any State also, have power to make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in List III in the Seventh Schedule (in this Constitution referred to as the “Concurrent List”).
2. Subject to clauses (1) and (2), the legislature of any State has exclusive power to make laws for such State or any part thereof with respect to any of the matters enumerated in List II in the Seventh Schedule (in this Constitution referred to as the “State List”).
3. Parliament has power to make laws with respect to any matter for any part of the territory of India not included in a State notwithstanding that such matter is enumerated in the State List.
II Article 262: In case of disputes relating to waters, Article 262 provides:
1. Parliament may be law provide for adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the water of, or in, any inter-state river or river valley.
2. Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, Parliament may, by law provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint as is referred to in Clause (1).
As such, the Central Government is conferred with powers to regulate and develop inter-state rivers under Entry 56 of List I of Seventh Schedule to the extent declared by Parliament by law to be expedient in the public interest.
It also has the power to make laws for the adjudication of any dispute relating to waters of inter-state river or river valley under Article 262 of the Constitution.
Hence the Constitution does not have any machinery for adjudication of water disputes. The constitution empowers parliament to make such provisions as it think fit for adjudication of such disputes. It provides for reference of such a dispute to tribunals on receipt of an application from a state when the Union Government is satisfied by negotiations. The major criticism against the existing arrangement are 1) they involve inordinate delay in securing settlement of such dispute 2) there is no provision for an adequate machinery to enforce the award of the Tribunal.
The state cannot legislate on use of waters of inter-state rivers and river valley beyond their state boundaries. In the constitution water is a matter comprised in Entry 17 of List-II. This entry is subject to the provisions of Entry 56 of List-I. The result is that no state can effectively legislate inter-state river water for its own benefits. Only Parliament can effectively regulate by law the beneficial use and distibution of such waters among the states. Secondly, the quantity of wate avialable to each of the states depends upon the equitable share of the other states. Thirdly a dispute about the waters of an inter-state river can arise from any actual and proposed legislation of a state.
Water and Identity: An Analysis of the Cauvery River Water Dispute By P B Anand
Inter- State River Water Disputes in India (Paperback)
By M V V Ramana (Author)
About the Book:
Inter-state river water disputes in India have become an inflammatory issue in the last few years. They have become tools for political one-upmanship and have engendered numerous senseless acts of violence. This book offers a balanced survey of the history of inter-state river water disputes in India. It examines the legal approaches through which river water disputes have been tackled and suggests concrete steps to deal with such disputes in future. A notable feature of the book is an up-to-date analysis of the Cauvery waters dispute.
About the Author(s):
RAMANA, M.V.V., a practising lawyer with a keen desire to bring law as close to the people as possible.
Title: Inter- State River Water Disputes in India
Author: M V V Ramana
No. of Pages: 100
International And Interstate River Water Disputes In India (Paperback)
by Santosh Kumar Garg
Details of Book: International And Interstate River Water Disputes In India
Book: International And Interstate River Water Disputes In India
Author: Santosh Kumar Garg
ISBN-13: 9788170080688, 978-8170080688
Publishing Date: 2005-12-30
Publisher: Laxmi Publications
Number of Pages: 140
river water disputes in india water disputes in india garg santosh kumar river water disputes various disputes in india river water disputes related to india name the various water disputes found in india water disputes in india related to management river water disputes in india by s k garg riverwater disputes in india santosh river of india
We DO NOT sell old books or used books. All the books listed at Flipkart.com are new books.
The books listed at Flipkart.com are NOT available for free download in ebook or PDF format.
Inter State Water Disputes in India: Institutions and Policies*
Alan Richards & Nirvikar Singh
Department of Environmental Studies & Department of Economics
University of California, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz CA 95064, USA
In this paper we argue that Indian water-dispute settlement mechanisms are ambiguous
and opaque. We distinguish analytically between situations where cooperation is possible, and
situations of pure conflict, where the initial allocation of rights is at stake. In the latter case, a
search for a negotiated solution may be futile, and quick movement to arbitration or adjudication
may be more efficient. However, in India, the process is slow, and effectively binding arbitration
does not exist. The entanglement of inter-state water disputes with more general center-state
conflicts and political issues compounds problems. We argue that these impacts can be reduced
by a more efficient design of mechanisms for negotiating inter-state water disputes: some of the
possibilities include a national water commission independent of daily political pressures, a
federated structure incorporating river basin authorities and water user associations, and fixed
time periods for negotiation and adjudication.
* This research was supported by the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, the
Center on Institutional Reform and the Informal Sector at the University of Maryland, and the University of
California Santa Cruz Academic Senate and Division of Social Sciences. We are also grateful to Sayantanee Dutt,
Kathleen McDill, and Rashmi Shankar for research assistance. Nirvikar Singh would like to acknowledge the
hospitality of the Centre for Development Economics at the Delhi School of Economics, where he conducted related
research while a Senior Visiting Fellow, and extremely helpful conversations he had during this period with R.R.
Iyer (Centre for Policy Research), B.N. Navalawala (Planning Commission), and R.B. Shah (Consulting Engineering
Services). None of the above organizations or individuals is responsible for errors or the opinions expressed here.
Correspondence: Nirvikar Singh, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because large areas of India are relatively arid, mechanisms for allocating scarce water
are critically important to the welfare of the country’s citizens. Water contributes to welfare in
several ways: health (e.g. clean drinking water), agriculture (e.g., irrigation), and industry (e.g.,
hydroelectric power). Because India is a federal democracy, and because rivers cross state
boundaries, constructing efficient and equitable mechanisms for allocating river flows has long
been an important legal and constitutional issue. Numerous inter-state river-water disputes have
erupted since independence. A recent dispute over use of the Yamuna River among the states of
Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, was resolved by conferences involving three state Chief
Ministers, as well as the central government. This approach was adopted only after prior
intervention by the Supreme Court had failed. Not all disputes have happy endings, however: for
example, the larger dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the waters of the Cauvery
rages on. Inter-state water disputes continue to fester. Such disputes are a persistent phenomenon
Part of the difficulty is the plethora of actors and the complexity of the institutional
environment within which the various parties reach (or fail to reach) agreement. Actors include
state governments (which in turn must be decomposed into professional politicians, political
parties, and interest groups), the national parliament, central ministries, the courts, and ad hoc
water tribunals. These actors negotiate within a rich institutional setting. In general, river-water
disputes have involved state and central politicians, as well as the courts and special tribunals and
commissions set up to arbitrate disputes. Although fairly explicit constitutional provisions
govern inter-state river waters, it is unclear whether existing mechanisms for adjudicating
interstate water disputes are efficient. Indeed, there is growing consensus that existing
institutions are increasingly fail to generate outcomes which contribute to economic growth and
national welfare. Our research seeks to determine which arrangements for conflict resolution are
more effective (i.e., more likely to yield an acceptable outcome) and more efficient.
The Economics of Water It is widely recognized that water has a number of features that create
potential market failure. These may include non-rivalry, non-excludability, externalities, merit
good features, and significant transactions costs. The presence of these factors means that
although increased reliance on market forces (e.g., one state selling water to another) can
contribute significantly to resolving water issues, there is no escaping from the need for parties to
agree upon a set of rules, an enforcement mechanism, and a prior distribution of property rights.
Property rights have been claimed on the basis of historical use, as well as on the basis of the
“Harmon Doctrine”, that “what falls on our roof is ours to use, without regard to any potential
harm to downstream parties”. Historical use can work against trading water rights, while the
Harmon doctrine ignores externalities as well as past investments connected with water use. A
third approach, that of the social contract a la Thomas Hobbes, holds more promise. A deal must
be struck among the existing decision-making entities, such as Indian states, which 1) decides on
an initial allocation of property rights and 2) creates a mechanism to trade these rights, to
regulate uses that generate externalities, etc. Consequently, institutions that support efficient
bargaining and can enforce binding agreements are essential.
The obvious starting point for thinking about bargaining over water is the Coasian
perspective (Coase, 1960). Coase’s ideal bargaining solution provides a benchmark against
which one can compare reality. The main lesson of Coase is that one should not presume that
central intervention is desirable or necessary in inter-state water disputes. However, there are
situations in which bilateral or multilateral bargaining among concerned state governments may
not be efficient or equitable on its own. One example is that the center can affect starting
positions or threat points in the bargaining game between states. Another is that, when there is
incomplete information, even imperfect central intervention can be better in expected terms than
bilateral bargaining. A third case is when there are multiple issues to be bargained over, that may
also involve spillovers to non-riparian states: the Punjab-Haryana dispute is an example of such a
India’s Federal Water Institutions The relevant provisions of the Indian Constitution are
• Entry 17 in the State List,
• Entry 56 in the Union List, and
• Article 262.
The first provision makes water a state subject, but qualified by Entry 56 in the Union List,
which states: “Regulation and development of inter-state rivers and river valleys to the extent to
which such regulation and development under the control of the Union is declared by parliament
by law to be expedient in the public interest.” Article 262 explicitly grants parliament the right to
legislate over the matters in Entry 56, and also gives it primacy over the Supreme Court. As
documented by Iyer (1994), parliament has not made much use of Entry 56. Various River
Authorities have been proposed, but not legislated or established as bodies vested with powers of
management. Instead, river boards with only advisory powers have been created.
Hence, the state governments dominate the allocation of river waters. Since rivers cross
state boundaries, disputes are inevitable. The Inter-State Water Disputes Act of 1956 was
legislated to deal with conflicts, and included provisions for the establishment of tribunals to
adjudicate where direct negotiations have failed. However, states have sometimes refused to
accept the decisions of tribunals. Therefore, arbitration is not binding. Significantly, the courts
have also been ignored on occasion. Finally, the center has sometimes intervened directly as well,
but in the most intractable cases, such as the sharing of the Ravi-Beas waters among Haryana,
Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, and Punjab, central intervention, too, has been unsuccessful.
In summary, an unambiguous institutional mechanism for settling inter-state water
disputes does not exist. Nevertheless, water disputes are sometimes settled. Economic analysis is
necessary to illuminate whether and how water disputes get resolved in India.
2. India’s Experience
The Inter-State Water Disputes Act seems to provide fairly clear procedures for handling
disputes. At the same time, however, the law permits considerable discretion, and different
disputes have followed diverse paths to settlement, or in a few cases, continued disagreement.
In this section, we discuss some of the major disputes.
The central government has given substantial attention to water disputes, which began to
emerge soon after the framing of the Constitution. Some common features of the easily settled
disputes involved sharing costs and benefits of specific projects, or relatively specific
disagreements over smaller rivers, mostly over well-defined projects or project proposals. Most
settled disputes were characterized by specificity and well-defined technical and cost issues.
Other disputes took much longer to resolve, and some remain unsettled.
While smaller, more specific disputes may be settled more easily, this may still not be
ideal. In particular, while river basins seem the natural unit for dealing with issues of water
sharing, investment and management, they have been the focus of conflict rather than
cooperation in the Indian case. As noted in the introduction, the Indian Parliament has not made
much use of the powers vested in it by Entry 56 of the Union List. No river board has been set
up under this Act.
With regard to water projects, India has often adopted project models used by other
countries for its own execution. The Damodar Valley Corporation was modeled on the
Tennessee Valley Authority of the USA. After its creation, tensions and conflicts developed
between the corporation and the participating governments, which hampered its work. So it never
became an autonomous regional river valley development corporation. This lack of clear
delegation of authority, away from politicians, is another theme to which we shall return.
In order to give a better flavor for the nature of the bargaining process, we briefly discuss
(1) The Krishna-Godavari water dispute
(2) The Cauvery water dispute
(3) The Ravi-Beas water dispute
These cases involve important disputes, and illustrate well the variety of paths that disputes can
take in the Indian institutional context. In the first case, relative success was achieved through
negotiations and through the working of a tribunal. In the other two cases, the institutional
process has been relatively less successful: while these two disputes have both gone to tribunals,
neither one has yet been successfully resolved. The Cauvery Tribunal is still deliberating, while
the Ravi-Beas Tribunal gave its judgment, but it was not made official by the central
Krishna-Godavari water dispute The Krishna-Godavari water dispute among Maharashtra,
Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh (AP), Madhya Pradesh (MP), and Orissa could not be resolved
through negotiations. Here Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are the lower riparian states on the
river Krishna, and Maharashtra is the upper riparian state. The dispute was mainly about the
inter-state utilization of untapped surplus water.
The Krishna Tribunal reached its decision in 1973, and the award was published in 1976.
The Tribunal relied on the principle of “equitable apportionment” for the actual allocation of the
water. It addressed three issues:
(1) The extent to which the existing uses should be protected as opposed to future or
(2) Diversion of water to another watershed.
(3) Rules governing the preferential uses of water.
The Tribunal’s rulings were as follows:
• On the first issue, the Tribunal concluded that projects that were in operation or under
consideration as in September 1960 should be preferred to contemplated uses and should be
protected. The Tribunal also judged that except by special consent of the parties, a project
committed after 1960 should not be entitled to any priority over contemplated uses.
• On the second issue, the Tribunal concluded that diversion of Krishna waters to another
waterline was legal when the water was diverted to areas outside the river basin but within
the political boundaries of the riparian states. It was silent regarding the diversion of water to
areas of non-riparian states.
• On the third issue the Tribunal specified that all existing uses based on diversion of water
outside the basin would receive protection.
The Godavari Tribunal commenced hearings in January 1974, after making its award for
the Krishna case. It gave its final award in 1979, but meanwhile the states continued negotiations
among themselves, and reached agreements on all disputed issues. Hence the Tribunal was
merely required to endorse these agreements in its award. Unlike in the case of other tribunals,
there was no quantification of flows, or quantitative division of these flows: the states divided up
the area into sub-basins, and allocated flows from these sub-basins to individual states – this was
similar in approach to the successful Indus agreement between India and Pakistan. Another
difference was that the agreement was not subject to review, becoming in effect, perpetually
The Cauvery dispute The core of the Cauvery dispute relates to the re-sharing of waters that are
already being fully utilized. Here the two parties to the dispute are Karnataka (old Mysore) and
Tamil Nadu (the old Madras Presidency). Between 1968 and 1990, 26 meetings were held at the
ministerial level but no consensus could be reached. The Cauvery Water Dispute tribunal was
constituted on June 2, 1990 under the ISWD Act, 1956.
There has been a basic difference between Tamil Nadu on the one hand and the central
government and Karnataka on the other in their approach towards sharing of Cauvery waters.
The government of Tamil Nadu argued that since Karnataka was constructing the Kabini,
Hemavathi, Harangi, Swarnavathi dams on the river Cauvery and was expanding the ayacuts
(irrigation works), Karnataka was unilaterally diminishing the supply of waters to Tamil Nadu,
and adversely affect the prescriptive rights of the already acquired and existing ayacuts. The
government of Tamil Nadu also maintained that the Karnataka government had failed to
implement the terms of the 1892 and 1924 Agreements relating to the use, distribution and
control of the Cauvery waters. Tamil Nadu asserts that the entitlements of the 1924 Agreement
are permanent. Only those clauses that deal with utilization of surplus water for further extension
of irrigation in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, beyond what was contemplated in the 1924
Agreement can be changed. In contrast, Karnataka questions the validity of the 1924 Agreement.
According to the Karnataka government, the Cauvery water issue must be viewed from an angle
that emphasizes equity and regional balance in future sharing arrangements.
There are several reasons why the negotiations of 1968-1990 failed to bring about a
1) There was a divergence of interest between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on the question of
pursuing negotiations. Karnataka was interested in prolonging the negotiations and thwarting the
reference to a tribunal, in order to gain time to complete its new projects.
2) The Cauvery issue became intensely politicized in the 1970s and 1980s. The respective
governments in the two states were run by different political parties. Active bipartisan politics in
both states made an ultimate solution more difficult.
3) Between 1968 and 1990, there were three chief ministers in Karnataka belonging to three
different political parties, while in Tamil Nadu, there were four chief ministers belonging to two
parties. There were two long periods of President’s Rule in Tamil Nadu. At the center, there were
six changes of Prime Minister, spanning four political parties and eight different Union Ministers
of irrigation. So, consecutive occasions when the same set of ministers from the same state and
the center met were rare.
4) The ministerial meetings were held at regular intervals, but no attempt was made to generate
technical options to the sharing of Cauvery waters. Expert engineers were not able to work
together for a common solution; rather they got involved in party politics.
The Ravi-Beas dispute Punjab and Haryana, the main current parties in this dispute, are both
agricultural surplus states, providing large quantities of grain for the rest of India. Because of the
scarcity and uncertainty of rainfall, irrigation is the mainstay of agriculture. An initial agreement
on the sharing of the waters of the Ravi and Beas after partition was reached in 1955, through an
inter-state meeting convened by the central government.
The present dispute between Punjab and Haryana about Ravi-Beas water started with the
reorganization of Punjab in November 1966, when Punjab and Haryana were carved out as
successor states of erstwhile Punjab. The four perennial rivers, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej and Yamuna
flow through both these states, which are heavily dependent on irrigated agriculture in this arid
area. Irrigation became increasingly important in the late 1960s with the introduction and
widespread adoption of high yielding varieties of wheat.
As a result of the protests by Punjab against the 1976 agreement allocating water from
Ravi-Beas, further discussions were conducted (now including Rajasthan as well), and a new
agreement was accepted in 1981. This agreement, reached by a state government allied to the
central government, became a source of continued protest by the political opposition, and lobbies
outside the formal political process. Punjab entered a period of great strife, and a complex chain
of events led to the constitution of a tribunal to examine the Ravi-Beas issue in 1986. Both states
sought clarifications of aspects of the award by this tribunal, but the center has not provided
these. Hence, the award has not been notified, and does not have the status yet of a final, binding
3. Bargaining and Investment
When the essential problem faced by states or groups within a state is that the initial
allocation of water is suboptimal due to changing circumstances, cooperative bargaining will lead
to an optimal allocation. The outcome of bargaining is not necessarily the same as the outcome of
market trading of water, but the existence of competitive markets may require more stringent
conditions to be satisfied, as Coase (1960) pointed out. A bargaining solution will depend on
threat points or disagreement payoffs. With multiple layers of decision-makers, bargaining may
have to occur at different levels: states bargain with each other, and groups within a state also
bargain. It is possible in some cases to reach the same outcome regardless of the sequencing of
the bargaining Richards and Singh, 1997).
A significant complication is that the productivity of a given quantity of water depends on
the level of complementary investments. These may be dams, irrigation projects, or even more
general complementary investments in agriculture. The first thing to note is that as long as the
benefit from a given amount of water is dependent on the amount of investment, it implies that
the optimal allocation of water depends on the investments in both states. Hence, even though
there are no direct externalities as a result of the investment, the conditional optimum of water
allocation involves a linkage of both states. What state A does with its investment will affect the
optimal amount of water that state B should receive.
Now suppose that both investments and the allocation of water are the subject of interstate
negotiations. The outcome of the negotiations will include a joint agreement on the
allocation of water between the states, as well as a joint agreement on the levels of investment
within the two states. This part of the outcome will be invariant to the specific form of the
negotiations, as long as the cooperation on both dimensions is possible. While investments such
as dams may plausibly be the subject of inter-state negotiation, it is less likely that states are
willing or able to negotiate broadly over general investments that affect the utility or productivity
of water in the state economy. If investments are chosen noncooperatively, externalities and
strategic considerations both create nonoptimalities.
The strategic motive for investment to affect subsequent bargaining implies that there is a
strong case for avoiding delays in negotiations and agreements, as well as for making agreements
permanent, or not subject to review, provided that the information is available is relatively
complete. This will tend to force efficient investments. Unforeseen changes in costs and
benefits can then be dealt with by trading water, rather than reallocating quantities de novo.
4. Property Rights, Politics and Information
One can view much of the conflict or disagreement over inter-state river waters in India
as an attempt to influence or determine the initial allocation of property rights over water, by
methods such as lobbying. The initial quantities of water are not given, but are precisely the main
subject of negotiations. In many cases, there is some de facto allocation of rights based on
historical usage, but there is a surplus of currently unutilized water that can be used (often only if
appropriate investments are made) once it is unambiguously allocated. It is important to recognize
that in such cases, the situation is one of pure conflict: more for one party means less for another
when there is a given total amount of the resource. It is conceptually important to separate out this
sort of situation, therefore, from one where initial property rights are well defined, and cooperation
is potentially feasible. In particular, there is no presumption that negotiation among the parties
attempting to share water from a particular river basin will lead to an agreement, and there is a clear
role for a higher-level authority. Thus the suggestion by some analysts of Indian cases that tribunals
or courts create an adversarial situation seems to miss the point: tribunals become necessary when
the situation is inherently adversarial.
Consider the case of a tribunal allocating initial rights to water. From one perspective,
the case of a tribunal is not that different from a political lobbying model. States expend effort to
influence the tribunal, which makes its award accordingly. The difference is in the nature of the
states’ efforts, the public nature of the process, and the objective function of the tribunal. It is the
differing nature of accountability and transparency that distinguishes the use of a tribunal.
Political objectives Models of lobbying implicitly include some political considerations for the
center, beyond maximizing the joint welfare of the two parties to the dispute. It is possible to
incorporate such objectives, as well as self-interested behavior, more explicitly. Rather than the
rather passive role assigned to the center in the standard rent-seeking model, we can think of it
having its own objective function, and bargaining with the two states: the states have political
support to offer the center, in return for a favorable decision on the water issue. This seems to be
a key feature of the Indian institutions for settling interstate water disputes.
Clearly, each state will prefer the process–political negotiations or a tribunal–that will favor
it. There is no guarantee that the states will have unanimous preferences in this regard. Thus, while
each mechanism is designed to overcome the problem of resolving conflict in the absence of
property rights, the presence of alternative mechanisms raises the problem of conflict over which
mechanism to use. The problem is simply pushed back one step further, and delays occur. Of
course, in India it is specified that if negotiations fail, a tribunal must be appointed. However, this
is done at the discretion of the center and, in the above situation, the center would actually prefer a
political solution, where it barters an award for political support. Reducing discretion, such as
specifying short time limits for negotiation, with a tribunal to take over thereafter, is essential in
such a situation. Such a recommendation is an old one: our analysis helps to make a more formal
and transparent case for it.
The above framework can be used to analyze some additional problems with the political
bargaining case, even in the absence of a tribunal as an alternative. These problems arise due to
the uncertainty of political regimes (Richards and Singh, 1996). While water agreements are
typically very long term, or should be, to permit efficient investments, governments change every
few years. The relative value of political support from the two states becomes an important
parameter, since one of the states may prefer to postpone the agreement.
Incomplete information. An important issue in water negotiations in practice may be that each
party has private information. There are potentially two kinds of information: technical and
subjective. In principle, technical information may be shared and verified, but in practice this
can be an arduous task, as the lengthy proceedings of Indian water tribunals seem to indicate.
Estimates of costs and benefits in general, as they enter the utility functions privately and
subjectively, may not be objectively verifiable. This complicates matters further.
5. Water and Indian Federalism
State governments dominate the allocation of river waters. Since rivers cross state
boundaries, disputes are inevitable. The Inter-State Water Disputes Act of 1956 was legislated to
deal with conflicts, and included provisions for the establishment of tribunals to adjudicate where
direct negotiations have failed. However, states have sometimes refused to accept the decisions
of tribunals. Therefore, arbitration is not binding. Significantly, the courts have also been
ignored on occasion. Finally, the center has sometimes intervened directly as well, but in the
most intractable cases, such as the sharing of the Ravi-Beas waters among Haryana, Jammu and
Kashmir, Rajasthan, and Punjab, central intervention, too, has been unsuccessful. An
unambiguous institutional mechanism for settling inter-state water disputes does not exist. On the
other hand, water disputes are sometimes settled. Economic analysis is necessary to illuminate
whether and how water disputes get resolved in India.
The main features of India’s legislation with respect to the inter-state allocation of water
were reviewed in section 1. In section 2, we examined how disputes had progressed in practice,
including some case studies. Some of the problems with dispute resolution in these cases were
illuminated by the analytical discussion in sections 3 and 4. However, before turning to our
conclusions, it is useful to discuss the issue of water disputes in the larger context of Indian
federalism. The issue of inter-state water allocation, while it involves special legal and technical
features, has been clouded by some of the general problems of Indian federalism. We consider
these issues here, but also will suggest that the subject is specific enough for more effective
institutions to be developed, without getting bogged down in the more general difficulties. Of
course, inter-state river water disputes in India have long been recognized as an important federal
issue. The Sarkaria Commission on center-state relations (Government of India, 1988) devoted
an entire chapter to the problem, and made a series of recommendations. We close this section
with a review of the commission’s analysis, and our additional perspectives.
India has been characterized as having a “quasi-federal” structure, because of the large
degree of central discretion and control permitted by the constitution. The main illustrations of
this are the power of the central government over state governments through dismissals and the
appointment of politically motivated state governors, and the central government’s greater
command over resources, relative to expenditures (resulting in a “vertical fiscal imbalance”).
While the former problem may be inherent, to some extent, in a parliamentary system with a
strong executive-style parliamentary leader, fiscal federalism in India has been enhanced by a
particular institutional structure, namely, the central Finance Commission. This body has
provided a rule-bound or formulaic mechanism for sharing of revenues between the center and
the states. Even though it has only advisory status, and has also been subject to political
influence, it has established precedents, and conducted itself relatively independently of everyday
political considerations. To the extent that the center is bound by such rules, such an institution
reduces the control of the center over the states.
From a federal perspective, a key feature of India’s Constitution is the existence of
separate lists demarcating central (the Union List) and state responsibilities. This demarcation
creates a broad framework of assignment of expenditure responsibilities, an essential feature of a
federalist system. With respect to water, it has been extensively pointed out that water is in the
State List of the Constitution (Entry 17), but that the entry there is qualified, “subject to the
provisions of Entry 56 of List I” (the Union List).
Essentially, Indian federalism, while marked by a relatively powerful center, has
consistently involved coalition building to create such a center. This has meant a high level of
explicit or implicit “horse-trading” among the center and states that are potentially key elements
of a central coalition. One possible interpretation, therefore, is that the center wishes to preserve
a system which allows it flexibility or discretion in bargaining over center-state issues in general,
with water being one of them. A related feature of Indian political economy is the problem of
multiple vetoes (Bardhan, 1984), which would help explain why, with discretion preserved, it
may not be used decisively. This, too, seems relevant to the case of water, where negotiations
have dragged on, and where the central government has sometimes prolonged them, by failing to
speedily appoint a tribunal, even when asked.
In the context of the above analysis, we next discuss the institutions that have, in fact,
been created since 1980. The central ministry of irrigation published a document that year,
outlining a proposed study of India’s national water resources (Government of India, Ministry of
Irrigation, 1980). This led to the formation of the National Water Development Agency (NWDA)
in July 1982, to “carry out the water balance and other studies…for optimum utilization of water
resources…” (National Water Development Agency, 1992). This agency is a Government of India
Society in the Ministry of Water Resources, and not a body with any statutory backing.
Furthermore, its scope is technical, and separate from the institutional realities of water
allocation. In 1983, the National Water Resources Council (NWRC) was created by a central
government resolution. Its composition includes chief ministers of states, lieutenant governors of
union territories, several central government ministers, and the prime minister as chairman. This
group met first in October 1985, and adopted a National Water Policy in 1987. This policy
emphasizes an integrated and environmentally sound basis for developing national water
resources, but provides no specific recommendations for institutions to achieve this. Though the
council was created out of disenchantment with the adjudicatory process for inter-state river
disputes, it has not provided concrete proposals to improve that process, nor has it provided the
useful alternative that was hoped for, as the persistence of the Ravi-Beas and Cauvery disputes
indicates. Our discussion and analysis above indicates that this should not be a surprise. The
NWRC does not meet any of the required criteria required: it does not provide specific
mechanisms for dispute resolution, it does not delegate sideways to achieve commitment
possibilities, and it does not have any statutory force. While it may provide a useful talking shop
for long range planning and information exchange, its usefulness otherwise has been limited
We finally turn to the issue of enforcement of tribunal awards. This issue was given
some attention by the Sarkaria Commission. It noted that section 6 of the ISWD act of 1956
provides that the Union Government shall publish the decision of the Tribunal in the Official
Gazette and the decision shall be final and binding on the parties to the dispute
and shall be given effect by them. (Government of India, 1988, Chapter 17.4.18,
The commission’s report goes on to suggest that the center cannot enforce the tribunal award if a
state government refuses to implement the award. It notes that the amendment of the act in 1980,
inserting section 6A, which provides for an agency to implement a tribunal award, is not
sufficient because such an agency cannot function without the cooperation of the states
concerned. The Sarkaria Commission’s recommendation is, therefore, that a water tribunal’s
award should have the same force and sanction behind it as an order or decree of the
Supreme Court. We recommend that the Act should be suitably amended for this
purpose. (Government of India, 1988, Chapter 17.4.19, p. 491)
This has not been done, but it should be noted that water tribunals already have such courtequivalent
powers for a narrow range of issues, including gathering of information, requiring
witnesses to testify, and recovering the costs of the tribunal (Section 9 of the ISWD Act,
reproduced in Ramana, 1992, p. 60). Furthermore, the ISWD Act, Section 11 states that
Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, neither the Supreme Court nor any
other court shall have or exercise jurisdiction in respect of any water dispute which may
be referred to a Tribunal under this Act. (Ramana, 1992, p. 90)
One possible interpretation of this provision is that it does implicitly give water tribunals broadly
an equivalent status to the Supreme Court, and their decisions must have the same force. Hence
the center can theoretically deal with a recalcitrant state by dismissing the state government.
However, this penalty, the only one seemingly available, is so great that it is hard to imagine its
being used solely for a water dispute, although it has been used extensively under other pretexts.
Once again, the resolution of water disputes is complicated by being tangled in the general
difficulties of center-state federal issues. Thus the recommendation to amend the act might not
get to the crux of the problem.
The Sarkaria Commission’s other recommendations were based on the same kinds of
difficulties in resolving past disputes as have been described in this paper. Two
recommendations related to placing time limits on constituting tribunals and having them deliver
decisions. These merely echoed the recommendations of the Administrative Reforms
Commission (1969, Chapter V) nearly 20 years before. Another recommendation was that the
center could appoint a tribunal without being asked to do so by a state government. A final
recommendation was for the establishment of a national level data bank and information system.
None of these recommendations has been carried out. However, we would like to suggest that
this failure partly reflects the fundamental nature of the problem, that water issues are tangled
with broader difficulties in the federal structure. The solution, while including all the above
recommendations, must include the creation of a quasi-independent hierarchy of institutions to
manage the allocation of water. This will insulate the process from political uncertainties, and
permit a greater degree of commitment and cooperation. The central point to be emphasized is
that appropriate institutions can play a vital role in shaping and constraining the incentives of the
actors in inter-state water allocation. We expand on this in our final section.
In this section we summarize some of the salient issues, the implications of our analysis,
and recommendations. While our focus is on institutions for the resolution of inter-state water
disputes, our analysis and recommendations carry over more broadly to issues of water allocation
more generally, and we discuss this briefly, also.
Dispute settlement procedures Constitutionally and legislatively, Indian inter-state river dispute
settlement procedures involve either of two processes: negotiations and compulsory legal
adjudication. Furthermore, there is room for voluntary processes such as mediation, conciliation
and voluntary arbitration, often by the prime minister or other members of the central
government. Such processes do not foreclose arbitration or adjudication on specific areas of
conflicts that remain unresolved after mediation and conciliation. Guhan (1993) suggests that
mediation and conciliation do not have enough scope in resolving water disputes, and that
“adjudication inevitably leads to adversarial positions and maximal claims” (Iyer, 1994b, p. 195).
Iyer observes that this criticism of adjudication misses the point, since the difficulty of reaching
an agreement may be structural, and assisted negotiations (that is, conciliation and mediation by a
third party) may be as problematic as unassisted negotiations. He emphasizes the importance of
goodwill, and willingness to accept an “objective settlement”, but does not really come to grips
with the structural issues. We emphasize the difference between situations where property rights
are well defined (possibly de facto rather than by formal legal mechanisms), and situations where
the dispute is over the property rights themselves. In the former case, there is room for a
mutually beneficial exchange, and one can think of several different ways of implementing or
facilitating a cooperative outcome through bargaining, which also incorporate some elements of
fairness, a major component of “objective settlements”. On the other hand, legal adjudication
under the ISWD Act, is a non-voluntary imposed procedure, but it, or some similar externally
imposed procedure, may be necessary in situations where the dispute is conflictual in nature, and
not over sharing the potential gains of a mutually beneficial exchange. The real issue in such
cases is setting up adjudicatory processes or institutions that all parties can agree ex ante to be
bound by ex post; in these cases, focusing on voluntary negotiations may be somewhat
A key insight of our analysis and discussion is that the existing processes and institutions
for resolving inter-state river disputes are not sufficiently well defined or definite. There are too
many options, and there is too much discretion at too many stages of the process. Since water is
being more and more fully utilized, the possibility of disputes of the conflictual nature arising
increases. It is therefore crucial that the dispute resolution mechanism be better defined, in terms
of the order of the steps to be taken. Of course, parties to a negotiation can continue to bargain in
such cases, and even reach an agreement, as has happened in the case of the Godavari dispute. In
fact, the existence of an expected outcome from adjudication may provide a somewhat definite
disagreement point, and help to convert a conflictual situation to one of bargaining over
(expected) mutual gains. Given this option, a possible recommendation would be the automatic
and immediate referral of any dispute to a tribunal if requested by the center or any party to the
dispute, with the tribunal bound to ratify any agreement reached by negotiation before it had
delivered its decision.
Delays Extreme delays have been a very costly feature of the process of resolving inter-state
water disputes in India. There have been three components or dimensions of delay.
1) There has been extreme delay in constituting tribunals. Under Section 4 of the ISWD Act,
the Union government is required to set up a tribunal only when it is satisfied that the dispute
cannot be settled by negotiations. The center can thus indefinitely withhold the decision to set up
a tribunal on the ground that it is not yet satisfied that negotiations have failed. Examples of
delay include all the major disputes. The Narmada Tribunal was constituted in 1969 while
Gujarat had lodged a complaint in 1968 but the dispute itself dates back to 1963. The Godavari
and Krishna disputes started around 1956. The states began formal requests for reference from
1962 onwards. Ultimately the Godavari and Krishna disputes were referred to tribunals in 1969.
In the case of Cauvery dispute, two of the basin states, Tamil Nadu and Kerala had asked for
reference to a tribunal back in the 1970s. The tribunal was constituted only in 1990, after the
Supreme Court mediated.
2) Tribunals have taken long periods of time to give their awards. It took nine years from
reference in the case of the Narmada Tribunal, four years in the case of the Krishna Tribunal and
ten years in the case of the Godavari Tribunal. Such delays may be attributed to two factors:
first, the time taken for assembling facts and hearing arguments and second, abortive attempts to
bring about solutions at a political level, which delayed the functioning of constituted tribunals.
3) There have been delays in notifying the orders of tribunals in the Government of India’s
official gazette; this has resulted in delays and uncertainty in enforcement. The process took three
years in the case of the Krishna Award and one year in the case of the Godavari Award. These
delays naturally tend to complicate the dispute settlement process.
The kinds of recommendations with respect to delays are old ones, going back to the
Administrative Reforms Commission report of 1969, and repeated by the Sarkaria Commission
in 1988. To reduce delays, the center as well as any state that is involved in a dispute should be
able to request adjudication. The process of adjudication should began within a prescribed time
(for example, six months or one year) and conclude within a prescribed time (for example, three
or five years). Unlike the Sarkaria Commission, we would not recommend an escape clause,
whereby a tribunal could ask for an extension. While there can be no absolute guarantee that a
tribunal will reach a decision in the prescribed time, making it easy to extend the time seems selfdefeating.
It is worth noting that delays can be extremely costly. They can result in beneficial
projects being delayed (the World Bank, for example, has declined to fund projects related to
disputed river basins), and it can lead to inefficient investments being undertaken. This problem
can arise even when property rights are not the issue, and bargaining parties use this to strengthen
their bargaining positions: this was discussed in section 3. The problem is compounded when
the initial rights are themselves contested. This seems to have characterized some of the actions
taken by Karnataka in the Cauvery dispute, for example. The issue of investment related to water
use will become more and more important as the Indian economy continues to grow, and delays
will become increasingly damaging, highlighting the importance of dealing with this issue.
Enforcement We noted the problem of enforcement in section 5. State governments have
sometimes rejected tribunal awards, as in the case of Ravi-Beas Tribunal and the Punjab
government. In this case, the central government avoided notifying the tribunal’s award, to
prevent further deterioration of the conflictual political situation in Punjab. In the case of the
Cauvery dispute, the Karnataka government sought to nullify the tribunal’s interim order through
an ordinance. Though the Supreme Court pronounced that the ordinance was unconstitutional,
the Karnataka government showed no inclination to implement the tribunal’s interim order, until
a compromise was reached through political negotiations behind closed doors. The Sarkaria
Commission was of the view that in order to make tribunal awards binding and effectively
enforceable, the ISWD Act should be amended to give these awards the same sanction as an
order or decree of the Supreme Court. However, as noted in section 5, tribunals seem to have
this force in theory: the problem is of penalties to be imposed for noncompliance. We suggested
that the solution would require decoupling water disputes from more general problems of Indian
federalism and center-state relations. This brings us to a discussion of alternative institutions.
Institutions Current institutions do not do a good job of resolving inter-state water disputes. To
some extent, the lack of well-defined procedures, the endemic delays and the weak enforcement
of decisions are all linked to a deficiency in the design of the relevant institutions. A key feature
of this deficiency is the subsuming of inter-state water disputes into the general political process.
In India, federalism, and perhaps the political economy in general, has been characterized by an
over-reliance on discretionary allocation; high influence costs have followed. The pattern of
inter-state water disputes is a prime example of this problem. The solution we propose is the
creation of specialized permanent institutions to regulate the allocation of water across states,
including the resolution of water disputes. These institutions would themselves respect the
federal structure of the country, as we will elaborate below, but will have a greater degree of
independence and transparency than the current situation. The idea of such institutions is not farfetched.
The Finance Commission has done a relatively good job of handling central-state
financial transfers, including making allocations across states according to public and rational
criteria. This mechanism is in the process of being extended to the level of state-local transfers
(Singh, 1997). Other examples of such sideways delegation are the creation of an independent
body to regulate financial markets, and the operation of a relatively independent central bank. In
such cases, the government gives up some of its direct powers as a way of precommitting itself,
and insulating certain types of decisions from political pressures. While these examples all
involve financial issues, whereas water is a physical resource, water is also an economic asset
that can be allocated according to rational principles. Our analysis in sections 3 through 5
suggests that the process of resolving inter-state water disputes, and of allocating water more
generally, has been made inefficient by being entangled in more general political issues,
including the nature of Indian federalism in general. This inefficiency is the central concern.
The kind of institutions we propose would incorporate the specific recommendations to
clarify and streamline procedures, reduce delays, and improve enforcement that have been made
above and by numerous others. However, they would be quite different from the NWRC, which
is very much a political creature. A possible guide for specifics of organization is the Murray
River Commission (MRC) in Australia, where the states and the central government have equal
representation, and each state typically has drawn its representative from a major rural water
management authority, while the central representative is a senior civil servant1. This is not to
suggest that the MRC is a perfect model. However, a permanent institution, with rotating
membership weighted towards technically knowledgeable administrators, seems a feasible
improvement over the current situation.
It is, of course, important to keep in mind that the MRC is a single river basin
management authority. We are proposing at the national level an institution that will provide an
umbrella for actual river boards or river basin authorities. The legislative framework for such
bodies exists, of course, but, as discussed above, it has not been effectively used. Even when
such entities have been proposed or created, they have not functioned well. The problem, again,
has been the concern of state governments that they would be ceding too much power to such
bodies, and, indirectly, ceding control of their water resources to the center. The solution we
propose would uniformly remove a set of decisions with respect to water sharing and use from
the general political orbit, without tilting power towards the center. It should, therefore, be easier
for states to accept. Thus, we envisage a hierarchy of water management institutions, with river
basin authorities being the next step down from the national commission. One can then think of
1 See the articles by David Constable and John Paterson in Eaton (1992).
membership at the national level being drawn from experienced members of individual river
The idea of developing a hierarchy of specialized water management associations is not
new, but the main discussion of this has come in the context of local water user associations, and
federations of such associations. Several different models of such federations exist2. We can
think of state and national level institutions as linking up and continuing this kind of hierarchical,
federated structure. Ultimately, water allocation will be efficient only if decision-making is
responsive to the end users. Furthermore, it is important to emphasize that detailed central
planning will not succeed for water allocation any more than for other goods. The role of the
institutions at the national and river basin levels is to provide mechanisms for dealing with
conflicts associated with externalities, and lack of well-defined property rights, not to allocate
water at the micro level. Finally, in any kind of hierarchy, the potential for influence activities
and associated costs will exist: we are suggesting that these can be reduced by the creation of
specialized institutions, with clearly defined limits of authority.
We envisage a national level water institution as incorporating the tasks of dispute
resolution, perspective planning, and information gathering and maintenance. These tasks are
currently scattered among tribunals, the NWRC and the NWDA. The last of these organizations
seems to be particularly isolated and relatively unsupported. The advantages of integrating
information collection and storage with long-range planning and dispute resolution seem
manifest. One stumbling block will, of course, be the reluctance of ministries, including
politicians and bureaucrats, to give up power over decision-making3. It is here, perhaps, that
ultimately goodwill, emphasized by several analysts of Indian river water disputes, will have to
come into play. The possibility of significant, potentially positive institutional change in India is
illustrated by recent legislation strengthening local governments. The allocation of water is
another aspect of India’s federal institutions that can be improved.
In summary, current Indian water-dispute settlement mechanisms are ambiguous and
opaque. A cooperative bargaining framework suggests that water can be shared efficiently, with
compensating transfers as necessary, if initial water rights are well-defined, and if institutions to
facilitate and implement cooperative agreements are in place. Our analysis also emphasizes the
role of complementary investments, and the need to expand the scope of bargaining to include
these where feasible. Furthermore, delay in the dimension of agreement over water can
encourage inefficient, non-cooperative investments in dams, irrigation, etc.
Additionally, we draw the distinction between situations where cooperation is possible,
and situations where the initial allocation of rights is at stake, where consequently the parties face
2 See, in particular, Meinzen-Dick et al (1994), pp. 25-27. It is interesting to note that a recent study for the
United States by Foster and Rogers (1988) makes somewhat similar institutional recommendations to the ones
proposed here, including a national and regional councils for water resources policy.
3 Currently, the Ministry of Water Resources is responsible for “overall planning, policy formulation, coordination
and guidance in respect of the water resources sector as a whole”, according to the National Water Policy of 1987
(quoted in Frederiksen, et al, 1993, p. 39). However, this Ministry is essentially the old Ministry of Irrigation, and it
tends to focus on irrigation and flood control only. Other important functions are not directly under its control. An
important organization, the Central Water Commission, has a Chairman with a rank equivalent to the seniormost
bureaucrat in the Ministry, and acts directly as a technical adviser to the planning commission. Other organizations
include the Central Groundwater Board, and the National Institute of Hydrology. Overall, there are competing
voices, and sometimes-ambiguous lines of authority (Frederiksen, et al, 1993; Chitale, 1992; Rogers, 1992).
a situation of pure conflict rather than one of potential gains from trade. In the pure conflict
situation, which seems very relevant for Indian inter-state disputes, a search for a negotiated
solution may be futile, and quick movement to arbitration or adjudication may be more efficient.
However, in the Indian case, not only is this process slow, but also effective binding arbitration
does not exist. The threat point of no agreement has been the outcome in several major disputes
(e.g., Cauvery; Ravi-Beas). This can result in inefficient levels of investment by the individual,
non-agreeing states, generating a diversion of scarce investment resources, as well as inefficient
use of the water itself. This in turn can have negative impacts on economic growth. The problems
are compounded by the entanglement of inter-state water disputes with more general center-state
conflicts, and with everyday political issues. We would argue that these impacts can be reduced
by a more efficient design of mechanisms for negotiating inter-state water disputes. In Section 6,
we have presented some of the possibilities, including a national water commission independent
of daily political pressures, a federated structure incorporating river basin authorities and water
user associations, and fixed time periods for negotiation and adjudication.
Administrative Reforms Commission of India, (1967-68), Report of the Study Team on
Centre-State Relationships, Volumes I-III, Delhi: Manager of Publications, Government of India.
Administrative Reforms Commission of India, (1969), Report on Centre-State Relationships,
June, Delhi: Manager of Publications, Government of India.
Bardhan, Pranab (1984), The Political Economy of Development in India, Oxford: Basil
Chitale, M.A., (1992), “Water Resources Management in India: Achievements and Perspectives”,
in Guy Le Moigne et al (eds.), Country Experiences with Water Resources Management:
Economic, Institutional, Technological and Environmental Issues, World Bank Technical Paper
Number 175, Washington, DC,: The World Bank.
Coase, R., (1960), “The Problem of Social Cost”, Journal of Law and Economics, 1, 1-44.
Eaton, D.J., (1992), ed., The Ganges-Brahmaputra Basin: Water Resource Cooperation between
Nepal, India, and Bangladesh, Austin: Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.
Foster, Charles H.W., and Peter P. Rogers, (1988), “Federal Water Policy: Toward an Agenda for
Action”, Report of the Harvard Water Policy Project, Energy and Environmental Policy Center,
JFK School of Government, Harvard University.
Frederiksen, Harald D., Jeremy Berkoff, and William Barber, (1993), Water Resources
Management in Asia: Volume I, Main Report, World Bank Technical Paper Number 212,
Washington DC: The World Bank.
Government of India, Ministry of Irrigation, (1980), National Perspectives for Water Resources
Development, New Delhi: Ministry of Irrigation.
Government of India, (1988), Report of the Commission on Centre-State Relations (Sarkaria
Commission), Nasik: Government of India Press.
Guhan, S., (1993), The Cauvery Dispute: Towards Conciliation, Madras: Frontline/ Kasturi &
Iyer, R.R., (1994a) “Federalism and Water Resources”, Economic and Political Weekly, March
Iyer, R.R., (1994b) “Indian Federalism and Water Resources”, Water Resources Development,
10, 2, 191-202.
Meinzen-Dick, Ruth, Meyra Mendoza, Loic Sadoulet, Ghada Abiad-Shields, and Ashok
Subramanian, (1994), “Sustainable Water User Associations: Lessons from a Literature Review”,
paper presented at World Bank Water Resources Seminar, Lansdowne, Virginia, December 13-
National Water Development Agency, (1992), National Perspectives for Water Resources
Development, July, New Delhi: NWDA.
Ostrom, E., and Gardner, R., (1993) ” Coping with Asymmetries in the Commons: Self-
Governing Irrigation Systems Can Work”, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 7, 4, Fall, 93-112.
Ramana, M.V.V., (1992) Inter-State River Water Disputes in India, Madras: Orient Longman.
Rogers, Peter, (1992), “Comprehensive Water Resource Management: A Concept Paper”, World
Bank Policy Research Paper, WPS 879, March, Washington DC: The World Bank.
Richards, Alan R., and Nirvikar Singh (1997) Two Level Negotiations in Bargaining Over
Water, in: T. Parthasarathy, B. Dutta, J.A.M. Potters, T.E.S. Raghavan, D. Ray and A. Sen, (Ed.)
Game Theoretical Applications to Economics and Operations Research (Boston, Kluwer
Richards, Alan R., and Nirvikar Singh (1996) Water and Federalism: India’s Institutions
Governing Inter-State River Waters, report prepared for the Center on Institutional Reform and
the Informal Sector (IRIS), at the University of Maryland, under Cooperative Agreement No.
DHR-0015-A-00-0031-00 with U.S. Agency for International Development.
Saleth, R. Maria, (1994), “Towards a New Water Institution: Economics, Law and Policy”,
Economic and Political Weekly, 24th September.
Shah, R.B., (1994), “Inter-state River Water Disputes: A Historical Review”, Water Resources
Development, 10, 2, 175-189.
Singh, Nirvikar, (1997), “Governance and Reform in India”, Journal of International Trade and
Economic Development, June.
World Bank, (1993), Water Resources Management: A World Bank Policy Paper, Washington
DC: The World Bank.
River Water Disputes
As per the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 (ISRWD Act, 1956) when the water dispute arises among two or more State Governments, the Central Government receives a request under Section 3 of the Act from any of the basis States with regard to existence of water dispute. The status of such inter-State water disputes under ISRWD Act, 1956 is as follows:
Inter-State water disputes under Inter-State River Water Disputes Act (ISRWD), 1956 River(s) States Date of Constitution of Tribunal Date of Award
Krishna Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka April 1969 May 1976
Godavari Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa April 1969 July 1980
Narmada Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra October 1969 December 1979
Cauvery Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Union Territory of Pondicherry June 1990 Report u/s 5(2) received 5.2.2007
Krishna Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra April 2004 Report u/s 5(2) pending
Model/ Mandovi/Mahadayi/ Goa, Karnataka and Under Construction -
Vansadhara Andhra Pradesh & Orissa Under Construction -
In accordance with the said Act, the Central Government is required to refer a dispute to a Tribunal after it is satisfied that the dispute cannot be settled through negotiations. Accordingly, the water disputes, related to Cauvery and Krishna were referred to the Tribunals for adjudication in 1990 and 2004 respectively.
The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) passed an interim order on 25th June, 1991 and further clarifying orders on the interim order in April 1992 and December 1995. CWDT submitted its report and decision under Section 5(2) of the ISRWD Act, 1956 on 5.2.2007. With submission of report and decision under Section 5(2) of the Act, Central Government and the State Governments have sought explanation and guidance from the Tribunal under Section 5(3) of the Act. The matter is under consideration of the Tribunal. Further, party States have also filed SLPs in the Hon’ble Supreme Court against the decision dated 5.2.2007 of the Tribunal and the matter is sub-judice at present.
The Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) passed orders on June 9, 2006 on the Interim Relief Application filed by the party States of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh declining to give interim relief as sought in the application and at the same time indicating certain norms with a view to facilitate adjudication of the dispute before the Tribunal. Subsequently, State of Andhra Pradesh filed Interlocutory Application under Section 5(3) of the ISRWD Act, 1956 seeking further explanation/ guidance on the Order of the Tribunal of June 9, 2006 which is pending. The Tribunal in its hearing held in September and October 2006 has framed 29 issues for adjudication of the dispute before it. Further hearings of the Tribunal are continuing.
In respect of Mahadayi/Mandovi and Vansadhara water disputes, the requests were received from States of Goa and Orissa in July 2002 and February 2006. In respect of Mahadayi water dispute, a view has emerged in the Ministry that the dispute cannot be settled through negotiations and action has been initiated for establishment of a Tribunal. In respect of Vansadhara river water dispute, establishment of a Tribunal is in advanced stage of implementation.
Ravi & Beas Waters Tribunal (RBWT) set up in 1986 in pursuance of paragraphs 9.1 & 9.2 of Punjab Settlement (Rajiv-Longowal Accord, 1985) inter-alia to adjudicate the claims of Punjab and Haryana in Ravi-Beas waters, submitted its report on 30th January 1987. The Tribunal is to submit its further report to the Government on the references made by the party States and the Central Government seeking further guidance on its report. The hearings of the Tribunal have now become dependent on the outcome of a Presidential reference made on 22.07.2004 before the Hon’ble Supreme Court on Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004.
Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal envisages delivering Haryana’s share of Ravi-Beas waters. In the matter of non-completion of SYL Canal in Punjab portion, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in a judgment of 4th June 2004, had directed the Central Government to carry out its action plan for completion of the canal. Central Government took necessary action. However, Punjab legislature on 12th July 2004 enacted Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 terminating all agreements relating to Ravi-Beas Waters and obligations thereunder. A Presidential reference in the matter of the above Act was filed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 22.07.2004, outcome of which is awaited.
Source: National Portal Content Management Team, Reviewed on: 15-05-2010
* Commerce and Industries
* Communications and IT
* Rural Development
* Water Resources
* Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution
* Science & Technology
* Health & Family Welfare
* Environment & Forests
Cauvery Water Dispute
Case Name: Cauvery Water Dispute
I. CASE BACKGROUND
Water has become a vital resource for economic growth and sustainable development. Southern India is currently engaged in conflicts involving shared water resources. This case study focuses on the Cauvery River Dispute. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, both Southern Indian States, rely on the Cauvery River for their water supply. Failed monsoons in 1995 ignited old debates between the two states over water access. The dispute is still in progress as the states battle out their arguments in the Supreme Court. The issue becomes more complicated and intense due to the displacement of local farmers who depend on the water from the Cauvery River for their livlihood. Crops are withering, and tempers are inflamed. Threats of violence have transformed into aggressive protests ending in death, and still there is no solution.
Water as a Resource
In accordance with the principles adopted at the International Conference on Water and the Environment (Dublin, January 1992), it was agreed that “fresh water is a finite and vulnerable resource, essential to sustain life, development and the environment”(1). Water is a resource which is absolutely necessary for the sustained development of a state. Regrettably, the statistics regarding the availability of fresh water in the world are staggering. It is estimated that 1 billion people do not have access to clean water, and 1.7 billion do not have sanitation(2).
The situation in India is a primary example of these startling statistics. The most significant environmental problem in India today is inadequate water supplies for sanitation and drinking. Official reports indicate that in 1993, 42.9 percent of urban India and only 3.5 percent of rural India had access to sanitation facilities. Similarly, 84.9 percent of the urban population and 82 percent of the rural population of India had clean drinking water (3).
Of the water available to India, the agricultural sector consumes 85 percent of the supply. Demand for water from agriculture is expected to rise from 46 Mham in 1990 to 85.5 Mham in 2025(4). In addition to the agricultural water demand, portions of India are also industrial centers which require a substantial amount of water. As rapid growth in India continues, this demand is projected to rise 3 fold by 2025(5).
Water Condition Indicators
Recognizing the issues surrounding water, sustainability indicators can aid in the understanding of future water availability and need. Three indicators are commonly utilized when examining water resources: the water barrier, the import dependence index, and the use to resource ratio. These measures provide an empirical explanation for the current water siltation in the world, and act a guides for effective solutions.
The water barrier measures water sufficiency (6). The measure is the simplest of the three approaches in that it looks only at the available water resources in order to identify the areas that are stretching the limits of the water supply in a given area. Subsequently, the amount of water is then compared to the projected population data and used to identify countries that are likely to experience water barriers in the future. The index is derived by the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization):
Index (m per capita)
> 1700 NO STRESS
1000 — 1700 STRESS
500 — 1000 SCARCITY
< 500 ABSOLUTE SCARCITY
Using this measure, analysts have determined that South East Asia has a water barrier measure of 440 (7). According to the index provided above, South East Asia suffers from "Absolute Water Scarcity."
Use-to Resource Ratio:
A second sustainability indicator that measures water availability is the Use-to-Resource Ratio. The ratio should be used as a compliment to the water barrier index in that it compares the amount of water required with the level of water available in a country. The measure factors the uses of the water withdrawal (climate, population, industry, agriculture, etc) in order to establish the impact of use levels. The very basic assumption produced by the ratio is that the more a country withdraws, the more likely it is to experience water scarcity. Sustainability, however, must not depend upon how much water is removed, but rather how much water is replaced at a reasonable quality level.
The ratio allows for regional and country conditions. As a result, there are no strict cut off points where scarcity levels are assigned. Rather, a ratio of 25% is considered to be a valid indication of water stress, and a ratio of 5% or below represents solvable water issues (8).
India was assigned a ratio of 18% in 1993. While this measurement does not identify India as suffering from severe water stress, India's percentage is well above the solvable water level.
The third and final sustainability indicator is import dependence which addresses the reliability of water resources. if a country is dependent upon a neighboring country or state for a substantial portion of its water resources, then its water security is subjected to all the possible variables in that other area. Therefore, a country's water security is vulnerable and erratic, both of which are potential problems for sustainability. The index is defined as "the percentage of total renewable water resources originating outside a nation's borders"(9). The higher the import dependence index number, the greater the possibility for water related conflict.
India is only given a import dependence score of 11%, however, this is not a good indication of the internal conflicts brewing within India over water resources. This measure only addresses national border disputes over shared water. Refer to Water and Conflict and the Cauvery River Dispute Case.
Water and the Environment
Farmers, water managers, and industry has little incentive to reduce their use of water since profitability is currently dependent upon larger yields. Continued overuse of water in this manner is guaranteed to take a terrible toll on the environment. Without reforms in water management, improper drainage will lead to waterlogged fields and salt buildup in the soil. This type of land degradation will continue to reduce agricultural yields. If these practices persist into the future, there may be land that is unable to be cultivated (10). In addition, water misuse can have severe effects on surrounding ecosystems such as altered water flows and water quality degradation (11).
Water and Conflict
As water becomes increasingly scarce, national conflicts are expected to rise. Industry, agriculture, and citizens are in competition for the resource that is so desperately needed for further development. National tensions over the distribution of water can quickly escalate into discord between groups dependent on a shared resource (12).
Water tensions are brewing over shared rivers and basins in many countries around the world. Over 200 bodies of water are shared by two or more countries or areas (13). Strife over water is plaguing states to include the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and South East Asia. Of particular concern for this case is the dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, two states in India, over access to the Cauvery River.
Cauvery River Dispute
The Cauvery River is one of the most contentious water supplies in Southern India. The Cauvery watershed is divided between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu (both Southern Indian States). Tamil Nadu does not control any of the Cauvery headwaters, yet is in possession of the tributaries Bhavana and the Moyar. Similar to other divided watersheds (Mekong–Southeast Asia and Colorado–Western United States), there is peace in times of good rains. However, when the monsoons fail, violence erupts (14). There is a tendency now for water issues to reach a crisis which requires a quick fix, rather than pursuing a long term solution (15).
The Cauvery River Dispute has been a serious issue since 1974 when a 50 year old agreement between the Madras president and the princely Mysore state collapsed (16). Karnataka asserts that the 1924 agreement entailed a discontinuation of the water supply to Tamil Nadu after 50 years. The conflict between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka compounds a century old dispute over the vital interests of farmers in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka (17).
In light of the longevity and complexity of the Cauvery River dispute, it is appropriate to highlight the underlying positions of each of the states involved:
While temples are the main attraction to Tamil Nadu, agriculture is the primary means of sustenance. Tamil Nadu relies on the Cauvery River to sustain its agricultural needs. Beyond the Cauvery, Tamil Nadu has very few resources for complex irrigation systems to maintain its water supply. Cauvery is the lifeblood of Tamil Nadu's agriculture, and agriculture is the lifeblood of Tamil Nadu. It is mandatory for Karnataka to abide by the decisions made by the Tribunal and Supreme Court. Karnataka is not above the law, and should be made to release at least 205 TMC of water to Tamil Nadu to save standing crops. Tamil Nadu asserts that water sharing is a national issue that requires the intervention of the Government of India.
Recently, the failed monsoons have created severe drought situations in much of Karnataka. The reservoirs of the Cauvery Basin only reached 23.2 TMC feet of water. The total requirement for Karnataka in 1994 was 24 TMC of water. Therefore, Southern Karnataka and Bangalore City are short of drinking water (18). Water is such a desperate issue that is Karnataka were to release water to Tamil Nadu it would be at the expense of Karnataka's economic growth and its own citizenry (19).
Karnataka contends that the shared river dispute should be made a national issue. It refuses to accept the decisions of the Tribunal because it is not an independent decision making body outside of the influence of either state. Karnataka asserts that it will not abide by any decisions until a National Water Policy is established that would apply to all shared water resources, not just the Cauvery.
After the elapse of the 50 year old agreement, the Cauvery River continued to be a source of conflict for the two states. In April 1991, the Supreme Court of the Government of India reassigned a tribunal to settle the dispute as mandated in the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act. The Tribunal heard arguments from both states, and reached the decision that Karnataka must release 205 TMC of water from the Cauvery reservoirs to Tamil Nadu on a monthly basis (20).
Karnataka declined to accept the ruling of the Tribunal. The Government of Karnataka argued that the Tribunal issued a decision that was not implementable. Due to failed monsoons, many parts of Karnataka were left without adequate water supplies. If the government were to release more than 100 TMC of water to Tamil Nadu, then it would be disadvantaging its own people (21).
The rejection of the Tribunal's decision pushed the negotiations on a downward spiraling path that eventually led to aborted talks. As mentioned previously however, water issues seem to only erupt when there is a lack of adequate rain. In 1992, 1993, and 1994, the rain was sufficient to pacify the the dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka (22).
The most recent conflict over the Cauvery River was in 1996, and continues still today. Beginning in 1995, the monsoons failed to fill the Cauvery tributaries possessed by Tamil Nadu. On January 1, 1996, Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Roa asked Karnataka to release an immediate six tmcft (one thousand million cubic feet) of water to Tamil Nadu to save the standing crops. In addition, the Prime Minister announced the immediate formation of an expert council to "spot assess" the status of the standing crop of both states to include the level of water needed to sustain the crops (23).
Small and medium sized farmers are suffering due to a lack of water. Crops are withering as tempers flare. As a result of this desperation, threats have turned into acts of violence. Agitation is occurring in cities such as Mandya and Bangalore (24). Students from colleges in Bangalore rioted and smashed window panes of a Tamil Nadu government van . Rioting by citizens of Karnataka ended in attacks on Tamilians that resulted in death (25). The violence continued when officials from Karnataka threatened to block any release of water to Tamil Nadu. Farmers from Mandya besieged the banks of the Cauvery River as a precautionary measure to assure that no water was released. The Cauvery Action Committee headed by Mr. G. Made Gowda, Congressional MP from Manya, formed a "human chain" in Mysore City (26).
It should be noted that despite the stalemate in negotiations and the violence that erupts, Karnataka has been releasing water from the Cauvery River to Tamil Nadu in installments for the last twenty years. The dispute between the two states is over the quantity of water released. The conflict between the people, particularly the farmers, is that there is a release at all.
The inspection process and water dispute continues today. Karnataka still rejects the Tribunal. The state is now suggesting that an independent monitoring committee be established (27). The Committee would be called the Cauvery River Committee and should take the form of a regulatory authority. The experts on the Committee should be outside the control of either state and the Tribunal. The Karnataka Government has suggested that the Committee be comprised of high ranking people with expertise in law, administration, agriculture, and irrigation engineering (28).
Tamil Nadu is now shifting its case from the Supreme Court and Tribunal to the Parliament (29). Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has threatened mass agitation if Karnataka does not comply with the Supreme Court's mandate (30).
As both states continue their struggle over the shared water dispute over the Cauvery River, it is likely that national intervention will be necessary. It has been noted by both states that the National Government of India must become involved in order to secure the future security of the farmers in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu (31). Shared water is a national issues that goes beyond the Cauvery River. Numerous rivers in India are shared by two or more states. Similar to Cauvery, disputes and violence are a norm. Water supply is a national issues that is going to require a national response.
3. Duration: 1974 — Present
The immediate Cauvery River dispute began in 1974 with the elapse of the 50 year old agreement between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and continues still today (32). However, an extended examination of the Cauvery River dispute reveals that the root of the problem began in 1837 with the focus of healthy forests and agriculture. Grazing and dryland agriculture in the watershed was restricted. Further measures were taken to conserve water in the region such as restricted coffee production at higher elevations to decrease the excessive water runoff. These sentiments were carried through the years to include a Treatise by the forest department and Chief Conservatory of Forests for Madras that advanced the conservation of water in Southern India (33).
a. Continent: Asia
b. Region: Tamil Nadu and Karnataka
Tamil Nadu: This Southern Indian state brims with green paddies and palm fields in the East, alluvial plains stretch to the Coromondel Coast to the West, and high rocky hills cover the Northern portion of the state. Tamil Nadu borders Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.
Karnataka: This state is considered the economic power of southern India. Bangalore, its capital city, is the fastest growing city in India. Growing high tech sectors are centered in Bangalore such as pharmaceutical and chemical industries. Due to the "industry friendly" atmosphere in Karnataka, major international firms are finding it a beneficial location for business. International firms in Karnataka include Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Cargill Corporation (34).
This industrialization is not without consequence for Karnataka. These firms and industry sectors require a mass amount of water; water that is scarce in this region. In times of weak monsoons, the fragile water situation in Southern India is exposed. In order to preserve the industrial growth and protect commercial use in Karnataka, local officials ration water to citizens on a rotational basis.
c. State: India
5. Actors: Karnataka and Tamil Nadu (India)
6. Type of Environmental Problem
a. Source Problem: water loss
b. Sink Problems: water access
7. Type of Habitat: Tropical
8. Act and Harm Sites:
India Farmers from both states are lacking necessary amounts of water to sustain their crops. The result has been outbreaks of riots in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as well as failed crops. See Cauvery River Case.
9. Type of Conflict: Intrastate
10. Level of Conflict: Low
The level of conflict in the Cauvery River Dispute must be classified as low. The extent of conflict in the dispute is rioting and aggressive vandalism. While some of these acts have resulted in death, the numbers of fatalities do not indicate "war-like" conditions.
11. Fatality Level: about 10
12. Environment-Conflict Link and Dynamics:
The rioting and violence that has occurred in the Southern region of India is directly related to resource access. Tamilians have threatened mass agitation if their access to water is not increased, and the people of Karnataka have rioted in response to the threat of decreased water access.
Causal Loop Diagram:
13. Level of Strategic Interest: State
14. Outcome of Dispute: In Progress
The dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the Cauvery River continues today. The dispute flares when the monsoons fail, and pacify when the rains are plenty. Therefore, the recent outburst between the states in 1996 inflamed the dispute yet again, thus keeping the conflict in progress.
IV. Related Information and Sources
15. Related ICE And Ted Cases
Assyria and Water Wars Marsh
Nile River and Conflict Kashmir
Israel and Water Sricoral
Litani and Conflict Indhsrmp
Jordan Dead Sea
16. Relevant Websites And Literature
The Hindu Index
International Food Policy Research Institute
Briscoe, John and Harvey A. Garn. "Financing water supply and sanitation under Agenda 21." Natural Resources Forum 19.1 (1995).
"Cauvery Row: Karnataka moots monitoring Panel" Deccan Herald. (September 3, 1997) [online] Available: http://deccanherald.indiaworld.co.in/deccanherald/sep03/river.htm.
"Cauvery Water Dispute Will Flow to Parliament" Rediff (1997) [online] Available:http://www.rediff.co.in/news/apr/09cauv.htm
Dublin Statement. A/Conf.151/PC/112, annex, Principle No.1.
"Experts Group Set Up for Spot Study: PM Asks Karnataka to Release 6 Tmcft to TN." The Hindu Index. (02-01-96).
Gately, David. International Food Policy Research Institute. News Release: "Potential for International and National Water Conflicts is High in Coming Years According to Research Organization." (June 14, 1995) [online] Available: http://www.cgiar.org/IFPRI/PRESSREL/061495c.htm.
"Karnataka to Release 6 Tmcft Water to T. Nadu" Hindu Index. (January 3, 1996). [online] Available: http://www.indiaserver.com/hindu/1996/01/04/THF01.html.
"Karnataka Proposes Independent Body on Cauvery" Mahya Pradesh Chronicle
(August 28, 1997) [online] Available:
Moorthy, N. Sathiya. "TN Lets Centre Worry About Cauvery Dispute" Rediff. [online] Available: http://184.108.40.206/news/jul/03sathi.htm.
Nayar, Kuldip. "Rivers of Dispute" (December 12, 19950 [online] Available: http://www.indiaserver.com/bline/1995/12/29/BLFP04.html.
Pelkey, Neil. "The Cauvery Water War." University of California. [online] Available: http://www.des.ucdavis.edu/staff/pelkey/cauvery.htm.
Raskin, Paul, Evan Hansen and Rovert Mrgoli. "Water and Sustainability: Global Patterns and Long-Range Problems. National Resource Forum. 20:1 (February, 1996).
Reidhead, William. UN Environmental Programme (UNEP). "State of India's Environment (A Quantitative Analysis)." Report #95EE52. (August 1996).
Shri Krisha Marandi (hearing). 15.07.91. no*t03. [online] Available: http://alfa.nic.in/ht/101s/scan/ses1/03150791.htm.
Shri Krisha Marandi (hearing). 10.12.96. no*t16. [online] Available: http://alfa.nic.in/ht/11ls/ses3/1610129.htm.
"The Politics of Water" The Hindu (August 18, 1996) [online] Available: http://www.webpage.com/hindu/daily/960818/05/05182511.htm
"TN Flays State Stand on Cauvery Authority" Deccan Herald [online] (September 3, 1997) Available: http://deccanherald.iniaworld.co.in/deccanherald/Sep03/cauvery.htm.
"Unshared Waters." Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay). July 18, 1997.
XI LOK SABHA DEBATES. Mansoon Session. (July 12, 1996). [online] Available: http://alfa.nic.in/ht/11ls/ses2/1212079601.htm.
1 Dublin Statement. A/Conf.151/PC/112, annex, Principle No.1.
2. Briscoe, John and Harvey A. Garn. "Financing water supply and sanitation under Agenda 21." Natural Resources Forum 19.1 (1995).
3. Reidhead, William. UN Environmental Programme (UNEP). "State of India's Environment (A Quantitative Analysis)." Report #95EE52. (August 1996).
6 Raskin, Paul, Evan Hansen and Rovert Mrgoli. "Water and Sustainability: Global Patterns and Long-Range Problems. National Resource Forum. 20:1 (February, 1996).
10 Gately, David. International Food Policy Research Institute. News Release: "Potential for International and National Water Conflicts is High in Coming Years According to Research Organization." (June 14, 1995) [online] Available: http://www.cgiar.org/IFPRI/PRESSREL/061495c.htm.
14. Pelkey, Neil. "The Cauvery Water War." University of California. [online] Available: http://www.des.ucdavis.edu/staff/pelkey/cauvery.htm.
15. "The Politics of Water" The Hindu (August 18, 1996) [online] Available: http://www.webpage.com/hindu/daily/960818/05/05182511.htm
16. Moorthy, N. Sathiya. "TN Lets Centre Worry About Caurvery Dispute" Rediff. [online] Available: http://220.127.116.11/news/jul/03sathi.htm.
17."Unshared Waters." Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay). July 18, 1997.
18. Shri Krisha Marandi (hearing). 10.12.96. no*t16. [online] Available: http://alfa.nic.in/ht/11ls/ses3/1610129.htm.
20. Shri Krisha Marandi (hearing). 15.07.91. no*t03. [online] Available: http://alfa.nic.in/ht/101s/scan/ses1/03150791.htm.
22. Shri Krisha Marandi (hearing). 10.12.96. no*t16. [online] Available: http://alfa.nic.in/ht/11ls/ses3/1610129.htm.
23. "Experts Group Set Up for Spot Study: PM Asks Karnataka to Release 6 Tmcft to TN." The Hindu Index. (02-01-96).
24. Shri Krisha Marandi (hearing). 10.12.96. no*t16. [online] Available: http://alfa.nic.in/ht/11ls/ses3/1610129.htm.
25. Nayar, Kuldip. "Rivers of Dispute" (December 12, 19950 [online] Available: http://www.indiaserver.com/bline/1995/12/29/BLFP04.html.
26. "Karnataka to Release 6 Tmcft Water to T. Nadu" Hindu Index. (January 3, 1996). [online] Available: http://www.indiaserver.com/hindu/1996/01/04/THF01.html.
27. "Cauvery Row: Karnataka moots monitoring Panel" Deccan Herald. (September 3, 1997) [online] Available: http://deccanherald.indiaworld.co.in/deccanherald/sep03/river.htm.
28. "Karnataka Proposes Independent Body on Cauvery" Mahya Pradesh Chronicle
(August 28, 1997) [online] Available:
29. "Cauvery Water Dispute Will Flow to Parliament" Rediff (1997) [online] Available:http://www.rediff.co.in/news/apr/09cauv.htm
30. "TN Flays State Stand on Cauvery Authority" Deccan Herald [online] (September 3, 1997) Available: http://deccanherald.iniaworld.co.in/deccanherald/Sep03/cauvery.htm.
31. Shri Krisha Marandi (hearing). 10.12.96. no*t16. [online] Available: http://alfa.nic.in/ht/11ls/ses3/1610129.htm.
32. Moorthy, N. Sathiya. "TN Lets Centre Worry About Caurvery Dispute" Rediff. [online] Available: http://18.104.22.168/news/jul/03sathi.htm.
Kaveri River water dispute
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Text document with red question mark.svg
This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations.
Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations where appropriate. (March 2009)
Kaveri river flows in South Karnataka and then to Tamil Nadu.
The sharing of waters of the river Kaveri had been the bone of contention of a serious conflict between the Indian states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The genesis of this disparity, itself, lies in two controversial agreements, one signed in 1892 and another in 1924, between the Madras Presidency and the Princely State of Mysore.
The state of Karnataka feels that it has not got its due share of water utilization viv a vis Tamil Nadu. Karnataka claims that these agreements were skewed heavily in favour of the Madras Presidency, and has since demanded a renegotiated settlement based on “equitable sharing of the waters”. Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, pleads that it has already developed almost 3,000,000 acres (12,000 km2) of land and as a result has come to depend very heavily on the existing pattern of usage. Any change in this pattern, it says, will adversely affect the livelihood of millions of farmers in the state.
Decades of negotiations between the parties bore no fruit. The Government of India then constituted a tribunal in 1990 to look into the matter. After hearing arguments of all the parties involved for the last 16 years, the tribunal delivered its final verdict on 5 February 2007. In its verdict, the tribunal allocated 419 billion ft³ (12 km³) of water annually to Tamil Nadu and 270 billion ft³ (7.6 km³) to Karnataka; 30 billion ft³ (0.8 km³) of Kaveri river water to Kerala and 7 billion ft³ (0.2 km³) to Puducherry. The dispute however, seems far from over with all four states deciding to file review petitions seeking clarifications and possible renegotiation of the order.
Karnataka Tamil Nadu Kerala Pondicherry Total
Basin Area (in km²) 34,273 (42%) 44,016 (54%) 2,866 (3.5%) 148(-) 81,155
Drought area in the basin (in km²)  21,870 (63.8%) 12,790 (29.2%) – – 34,660
Contribution of state (in billion ft³ according to Ktaka) 425 (53.7%) 252 (31.8%) 113 (14.3%) 790
Contribution of state (in billion ft³ according to TN) 392 (52.9%) 222 (30%) 126 (17%) 740
Quantity demanded by each state 465 (41%) 566 (50%) 100 (9%) 9.3 (1%) 1140.3
Share for each state as per TN’s demand 177 (24%) 566 (76%) 5 (1%) - 748
Share for each state as per tribunal verdict of 2007  270 (37%) 419 (58%) 30 (4%) 7 (1%) 726
History of the dispute
The history of this conflict goes back a long way. Disputes have occurred since 1807, but British influence mediated tensions for several decades. The British controlled both Mysore and Madras for a short period in the middle of the 19th century. During their regime, numerous plans were drawn up for the utilization of the Kaveri waters by both states. However, the drought and subsequent famine in the mid 1870s put a hold on the implementation of these plans. The plans were revived by Mysore in 1881, by which time Mysore was back in the hands of the Mysore kings, while present day Tamil Nadu continued to remain a part of the Madras Presidency.
Mysore’s plans to revive the irrigation projects met with resistance from the Madras Presidency. Mysore state made a representation to the then British government; as a result of which, a conference was held in 1890 with the objective of agreeing “…on the principles of a modus vivendi, which would on the one hand allow to Mysore reasonable freedom in dealing with her irrigation works, and on the other, give to Madras practical security against injury to her interests” and eventually the Agreement of 1892 was signed. Karnataka deems this agreement as having been between unequal partners because, while Mysore state was a princely state, Madras formed a part of the British Raj. Karnataka also considers this agreement to have been severely inimical to its interests as it gave sweeping powers and prescriptive rights to Madras, the lower riparian state. As per this agreement, Mysore was required to obtain Madras’ consent for any new irrigation reservoirs across any of the main rivers it wished to utilize and share information on any new irrigation scheme it wished to undertake to utilize the waters
Things came to a head in 1910 when Mysore, under Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar as the king and Sir. M.Vishweshwariah as Chief Engineer came up with a plan to construct a dam at Kannambadi village to hold up to 41.5 TMC of water. The dam was planned to be built in two stages. In the first stage a capacity of 11 TMC was envisioned, while in the second stage the full capacity was set to be realized. Madras however, refused to give its consent for this move as it had its own plans to build a storage dam at Mettur with a capacity of 80 TMC.
After a reference to the Government of India, permission was accorded to Mysore, but for a reduced storage of 11TMC. During construction, however, the foundation was laid to suit the earlier desired full storage. This raised Madras’ hackles and the dispute continued. As a result, the then British Government of India referred the matter to arbitration under Rule IV of the 1892 Agreement. The Cauvery dispute thus had come up for arbitration for the first time.
Sir H D Griffin was appointed arbitrator and M. Nethersole, the Inspector General of Irrigation in India, was made the Assessor. They entered into proceedings on 16 July 1913 and the Award was given on 12 May 1914. The award upheld the earlier decision of the Government of India and allowed Mysore to go ahead with the construction of the dam up to 11 TMC.
The agreement also stipulated that Mysore was not to increase its area under irrigation more than 110,000 acres (450 km2) beyond what was already existing, while the same cap for Madras Presidency was pegged at 301000|acre|km2. Nonetheless, Madras still appealed against the award and negotiations continued. Eventually an agreement was arrived at in 1924 and a couple of minor agreements were also signed in 1929 and 1933. The 1924 agreement was set to lapse after a run of 50 years. As a result of these agreements, Karnataka claims that Mysore was forced to give up rights.
Post independence developments
In 1947, India won independence from the British. This changed the equations drastically. Tamil Nadu was carved out of Madras Presidency and Mysore province became a state.
Further in 1956, the reorganization of the states of India took place and state boundaries were redrawn based on linguistic demographics. Kodagu or Coorg (the birthplace of the Kaveri), became a part of Mysore state. Huge parts of erstwhile Hyderabad state and Bombay Presidency joined with Mysore state. Parts of Malabar which earlier formed part of Madras Presidency went to Kerala. Pondicherry had already become a de facto Union territory in 1954.
All these changes further changed the equations as Kerala and Pondicherry also jumped into the fray. Kerala staked its claim as one of the major tributaries of the Kaveri, the Kabini, now originated in Kerala. Karaikal region of Pondicherry at the tail end of the river demanded the waters that it had always used for drinking and some minimal agriculture. While these additional claims complicated matters greatly at a technical level, Mysore state and Tamil Nadu still remained the major parties to the dispute.
By the late 1960s, both states and the Central government began to realize the gravity of the situation as the 50 year run of the 1924 agreement was soon coming to an end. Negotiations were started in right earnest and discussions continued for almost 10 years.
While discussions continued, a Cauvery Fact Finding Committee (CFFC) was constituted. The brief of the CFFC was to inspect the ‘ground’ realities and come up with a report. The CFFC came up with a preliminary report in 1972 and a final report in 1973. Inter state discussions were held based on this report. Finally in 1974, a draft agreement which also provided for the creation of a Cauvery Valley Authority was prepared by the Ministry of Irrigation. This draft however, was not ratified.
While all these discussions went on, Tamil Nadu’s irrigated lands had grown from a pre-Mettur command area of 1,440,000 acres (5,800 km2) to 2,580,000 acres (10,400 km2)  while Karnataka’s irrigated area stood at 680,000 acres (2,800 km²). Karnataka maintains that these figures demonstrate the lop-sided nature of the agreement.
In 1976, after a series of discussions between the two states and the Central government chaired by Jagjeevan Ram, the then Irrigation Minister, a final draft was prepared based on findings of the CFFC. This draft was accepted by all states and the Government also made an announcement to that effect in Parliament. Tamil Nadu came under President’s rule soon after that and the agreement was put on the backburner. When President’s rule was lifted, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) with M. G. Ramachandran at the helm came to power for the first time in Tamil Nadu and the dispute took a new turn.
The Tamil Nadu government now rejected the draft agreement and started insisting that the 1924 agreement had only provided for an extension and not a review. It began insisting that status quo be restored and everyone go back to the agreements of 1892 and 1924. This however, did not cut ice with Karnataka which had throughout maintained that those agreements were partisan and had been signed between unequal partners.
When Karnataka began construction of the Harangi dam at Kushalanagara in Kodagu, it was once again met with resistance from Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu went to court demanding the constitution of a Tribunal under the Inter State Water Disputes Act(ISWD) of 1956. It also demanded the immediate stoppage of construction work at the dam site. As a result of Tamil Nadu’s protests, Karnataka had to fund the construction under the non-plan head and this led to a severe strain on its finances.
Later Tamil Nadu withdrew its case demanding the constitution of a tribunal and the two states started negotiating again. Several rounds of discussions were held in the 80s. The result was still, a stalemate. In 1986, a farmer’s association from Tanjavur in Tamil Nadu moved the Supreme Court demanding the constitution of a tribunal. While this case was still pending, the two states continued many rounds of talks. This continued till April 1990 and yet yielded no results.
The constitution of the tribunal
The Supreme Court then directed the government headed by Prime Minister V. P. Singh to constitute a tribunal and refer all disputes to it. A three man tribunal was thus constituted on 2 June 1990. The tribunal was headquartered at New Delhi and was to be headed by Justice Chittatosh Mookerjee.
The four states presented their demands to the tribunal as under
* Karnataka – claimed 465 billion ft³ (13 km³) as its share
* Kerala – wants 99.8 billion ft³ (2.83 km³) as its share
* Pondicherry – claims 9.3 billion ft³ (0.3 km³)
* Tamil Nadu – wants the flows to be ensured in accordance with the terms of the agreements of 1892 and 1924 (ie., 566 billion ft³ (16 km³) for Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry; 177 billion ft³ (5 km³) for Karnataka and 5 billion ft³ (0.1 km³) for Kerala).
Interim award and the riots
Soon after the tribunal was set up, Tamil Nadu demanded a mandatory injunction on Karnataka for the immediate release of water and other reliefs. This was dismissed by the tribunal. Tamil Nadu now went back to the Supreme Court which directed the tribunal to reconsider Tamil Nadu’s plea.
The tribunal reconsidered Tamil Nadu’s plea and gave an interim award on 25 June 1991. In coming up with this award, the tribunal calculated the average inflows into Tamil Nadu over a period of 10 years between 1980–81 and 1989–90. The extreme years were ignored for this calculation. The average worked out to 205 billion ft³ (5.8 km³) which Karnataka had to ensure reached Tamil Nadu in a water year. The award also stipulated the weekly and monthly flows to be ensured by Karnataka for each month of the water year. The tribunal further directed Karnataka not to increase it irrigated land area from the existing 1,120,000 acres (4,500 km2)
Karnataka deemed this extremely inimical to its interests and issued an ordinance seeking to annul the tribunal’s award. The Supreme Court now stepped in at the President’s instance and struck down the Ordinance issued by Karnataka. It upheld the tribunal’s award which was subsequently gazetted by the Government of India on 11 December 1991.
Karnataka was thus forced to accept the interim award and widespread demonstrations and violence broke out in parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu following this. Thousands of Tamil families had to flee from Bangalore in fear of being attacked and lynched. The violence and show down, mostly centered in the Tamil populated parts of Bangalore, lasted for nearly a month and most schools and educational institutions in Bangalore remained closed during this period.
The crisis of 1995–1996
In 1995, the monsoons failed badly in Karnataka and Karnataka found itself hard pressed to fulfill the interim order. Tamil Nadu approached the Supreme Court demanding the immediate release of at least 30 billion ft³. The Supreme Court refused to entertain Tamil Nadu’s petition and asked it to approach the tribunal. The tribunal examined the case and recommended that Karntaka release 11 billion ft³. Karnataka pleaded that 11 billion ft³ was unimplementable in the circumstances that existed then. Tamil Nadu now went back to the Supreme Court demanding that Karnataka be forced to obey the tribunal’s order. The Supreme Court this time recommended that the then Prime Minister, Mr. P. V. Narasimha Rao intervene and find a political solution. The Prime Minister convened a meeting with the Chief Ministers of the two states and recommended that Karnataka release 6 billion ft³ instead of the 11 billion ft³ that the tribunal ordered.
Karnataka complied with the decision of the Prime Minister and the issue blew over.
Constitution of the CRA
Karnataka had all through maintained that the interim award was not ‘scientific’ and was inherently flawed. It had, nevertheless, complied with the order except during 1995–96 when rains failed. What complicated matters was that the Interim award was ambiguous on distress sharing and there was no clear cut formula that everyone agreed upon to share the waters in the case of failure of the monsoon.
In 1997, the Government proposed the setting up of a Cauvery River Authority which would be vested with far reaching powers to ensure the implementation of the Interim Order. These powers included the power to take over the control of dams in the event of the Interim Order not being honoured. Karnataka, which had always maintained that the interim order had no scientific basis and was intrinsically flawed, strongly protested the proposal to set up such an authority.
The Government then made several modifications to the powers of the Authority and came up with a new proposal. The new proposal greatly reduced the executive powers of the Authority. The power to take over control of dams was also done away with. Under this new proposal, the Government set up two new bodies, viz., Cauvery River Authority and Cauvery Monitoring Committee. The Cauvery River Authority would consist of the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers of all four states(Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Kerala) and was headquartered in New Delhi. The Cauvery Monitoring Committee on the other hand, was an expert body which consisted of engineers, technocrats and other officers who would take stock of the ‘ground realities’ and report to the
The flare up and high drama of 2002
In the summer of 2002, things once again came to a head as the monsoon failed in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Reservoirs in both states fell to record low levels and inevitably tempers rose. The sticking point yet again, as in 1995–96 was how the distress would be shared between the two states. The tribunal had overlooked this crucial point when it gave the interim award and it had returned once again to haunt the situation. Tamil Nadu demanded that Karnataka honour the interim award and release to Tamil Nadu its proportionate share. Karnataka on the other hand stated that the water levels were hardly enough to meet its own demands and ruled out releasing any water in the circumstances that prevailed.
CRA meeting and the Supreme Court order
A meeting of the CRA was called on 27 August but the Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalitha walked out of the meeting. The focus now shifted to the Supreme Court which ordered Karnataka to release 1.25 billion ft³ of water every day unless CRA revised it. Karnataka started the release of water but pressed for another meeting of the CRA which was fixed for 8 September. The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister this time boycotted the meet citing insufficient notice as the reason. A minister from her cabinet, however represented Tamil Nadu. The CRA revised the Court’s order from 1.25 billion ft³ to 0.8 billion ft³ per day.
This time however, the Karnataka government in open defiance of the order of the CRA, refused to release any water succumbing to the large scale protests that had mounted in the Kaveri districts of the state. Tamil Nadu aghast at the defiance, went back to the Supreme Court. Karnataka now resumed the release of water for a few days, but stopped it again on 18 September as a protesting farmer committed suicide by jumping into the reservoir and the protests threatened to take a dangerous turn.
The centre now stepped in and asked Karnataka to release the water. The SC meanwhile, in response to Tamil Nadu’s petition asked the CRA for details of the water release and water levels in the reservoirs. The CRA in turn ordered for the inspections of the reservoirs. While the CRA inspected the reservoirs in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu (on 23 September) flatly refused to grant them permission to inspect its reservoirs. This move by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, coupled with her earlier walkout and boycott of the CRA meets, came in for severe criticism from all quarters. On 30 September the Supreme court ordered Tamil Nadu to co-operate with the CRA and Tamil Nadu gave in.
The flare up had by now, well and truly taken an ugly turn and there were accusations and counter accusations being thrown all around in both states. The opposition parties in Tamil Nadu too had jumped into the fray and at the same time joining Jayalalitha in stinging rebukes of both the Centre and the CRA.
To add to all this, the dispute had already spilled onto the streets in the district of Mandya in Karnataka and was threatening to spread to other parts of the state too. Precipitating the matters on the streets, the SC ordered Karnataka on 3 October to comply with the CRA and resume the release of water.
Karnataka once again refused to obey the orders of SC. Tamil Nadu slapped another contempt petition on Karnataka and soon the issue degenerated into a ‘free for all’ with all and sundry from both states joining the protests. Soon, film actors and various other cross sections of society from both states were on the streets. The belligerence soon hit a crescendo and even as some groups in Tamil Nadu called for a stoppage of power from the Neyveli Power station to Karnataka as a tit-for-tat measure, a Pan-Tamil militant outfit (a month or so later) went ahead and blasted a major power transformer supplying power to the neighbouring states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
The Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr. S. M. Krishna on the other hand, fearing that the situation might spiral out of control, embarked on a padayatra from Bangalore to Mandya. While some saw this as merely a gimmick, some, like U R Ananthamurthy saw it as a good faith effort to soothe tempers and joined him in the yatra.
Censure of both states by the Supreme Court
In the meanwhile, Tamil Nadu’s contempt suit on Karnataka, came up for hearing on 1 November. The Karnataka government, by now saw the spectre of a harsh rebuke and action by the SC, and in a bid to salvage the situation, decided to resume the release of water; while at the same time compensating its own farmers for the loss. The supreme court deferred the case to 15 November and on 15 November, while reserving its comment on Karnataka, censured the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister for attacking the CRA and the Prime Minister and ordered Tamil Nadu to tender an unqualified apology. Tamil Nadu complied with it and tendered the apology.
By now, with Karnataka’s resumption of water release, compensation of its farmers and the first signs of the arrival of the north-east monsoon in Tamil Nadu, frayed tempers were on the wane. A couple of months later, the Supreme Court in an exceptionally stinging censure, pulled up the Karnataka government for its defiance of the courts. The Karnataka Chief Minister tendered an unqualified apology and soon the dispute blew over. Most importantly and equally unfortunately, once again the dispute had blown over without any agreement being reached on the issue of ‘distress-sharing’.
This section may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards. Please improve this section if you can. The talk page may contain suggestions. (December 2009)
The last four years haven’t seen any major flare up in the dispute even though the summer of 2003 saw a dry spell in both states. The monsoons in 2004, 2005 and 2006 was quite copious and this helped a great deal in keeping the tempers calm. While the last 3 or 4 years have been relatively quiet as far as jingoistic voices are concerned, a flurry of development has been afoot in the courts.
The term of the tribunal was initially set to expire in August 2005. However, in the light of the many arguments the court was yet to hear, the tribunal filed a request for extension of its term. The extension was granted and the tribunal’s term was extended for another year until September 2006. Early in 2006, a major controversy erupted over the ‘Assessor’s report’ that was apparently ‘leaked’ to the press. The report had suggested a decision which Karnataka summarily rejected. Another major controversy erupted when just a couple of months before the September 2006 deadline, the tribunal recommended the formation of another expert committee to study the ‘ground realities’ yet again. This was unanimously and vehemently opposed by all the four states party to the dispute. The states contended that this move would further delay a judgment which has already been 16 years in the making.
More than the disapproval of all the four states of the new expert committee that was proposed, the proposal turned out to be a major embarrassment for the tribunal. This was because, not only were the four states opposed to it, even the Chief Judge of the tribunal, Mr.?? was opposed to it. However the other two assistant judges on the 3-man adjudication team, overruled the opinion of the main Judge. And all this was done in a packed courtroom and this led to petty bickering and heated arguments between the three judges in the packed courtroom. This left everyone in the courtroom shocked and the Tamil Nadu counsel was moved to remark that it was embarrassing that the judges probably needed help settling their own disputes before adjudicating on the dispute at hand. Nonetheless, the new expert committee was formed and carried out further assessments. Subsequently, the extended deadline of the tribunal also passed and the tribunal was given yet another extension.
The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal announced its final verdict on 5 February 2007. According to its verdict, Tamil Nadu gets 419 billion ft³ (12 km³) of Cauvery water while Karnataka gets 270 billion ft³ (7.6 km³). The actual release of water by Karnataka to Tamil Nadu is to be 192 billion ft³ (5.4 km³) annually. Further, Kerala will get 30 billion ft³ and Puducherry 7 billion ft³. Tamil Nadu appears to have been accepting the verdict while the government of Karnataka, unhappy with the decision, filed a revision petition before the tribunal seeking a review.
* Kaveri river
* Water rights
* Right to water
1. ^ National Commission For The Reviews Of Working Of The Constitution
2. ^ a b P. B. Anand. “Water and identity – An analysis of the Cauvery river water dispute.” (PDF). University of Bradford. http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/bcid/research/papers/Paper3.pdf. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
3. ^ a b http://www.austlii.edu.au/~andrew/CommonLII/INSC/1991/305.html
4. ^ Cauvery: Nariman to continue as State counsel – Newindpress.com
5. ^ “Cauvery tribunal gives TN 419 tmcft, 270 to Karnataka”. Rediff.com. http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/feb/05cau.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
6. ^ a b http://www.cicero.uio.no/humsec/papers/Lenin%20Babu%20et%20al.pdf
7. ^ Rediff On The NeT: Century-old Cauvery dispute remains in limbo
8. ^ “State keenly awaiting Cauvery tribunal award”. The Hindu (Chennai, India). 29 December 2003. http://www.hindu.com/2003/12/29/stories/2003122906950400.htm.
9. ^ The Cauvery tangle – what’s the way out?
10. ^ rediff.com: Cauvery Water Dispute Homepage
11. ^ rediff.com: Pan-Tamil militants target power tower
12. ^ NDTV.com: Latest News, e-Bulletins, Stocks, Bollywood, Cricket, Video, Blogs, RSS from India
Articles detailing the dispute
* Rediff’s page documenting the dispute chronologically
* Breaking the Cauvery deadlock – An article in The Hindu
* Abstract of ‘Water and Civilization’ – From International Water History Association
* Himanshu Thakkar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People, “Why the Cauvery award is flawed” Rediff.com (February 6, 2007) — with comments
* Himanshu Thakkar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and Peoples, “Cauvery Tribunal Award 2007: Why it fails the tests of science, efficiency and equity?” (February 6 2007)
Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaveri_River_water_dispute“
Categories: Politics of Karnataka | History of Tamil Nadu | Rivers of Tamil Nadu | Rivers of Karnataka | Independent India | Economy of Karnataka | Inter-state disputes in India | Arbitration cases | Resource conflict
* This page was last modified on 11 December 2010 at 14:02.
* Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License;
Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.
…and I am Sid Harth
Category: News, Views and Reviews
India’s Superpower Euphoria CLXXII