Cauvery Pact: A Controversial Journey

Cauvery Pact: A Controversial Journey

News: The long-pending dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over the sharing of Cauvery waters was seen
in the news.

Cauvery River
• Origin: The river originates at Talakaveri in the Brahmagiri range of hills in the Western Ghats, located in the Kodagu district of Karnataka. It flows eastward and empties into the Bay of Bengal. It rises at an elevation of 1,341 metres.
• Basin: The Cauvery basin extends over the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and the Union Territory of Puducherry, covering an area of 81,155 square kilometres.
• Tributaries: The river has several tributaries, including the Harangi, Hemavati, Lakshmanathirtha, Kabini, Shimsha, Arkavathi, and Suvarnavathy.

The dispute:
• The Cauvery water dispute primarily involves the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, with Kerala and Puducherry also laying claims.
• The dispute dates back to the 19th century and has its roots in two agreements signed in 1892 and 1924 between the Madras Presidency and the princely State of Mysore.

Key Problems
• Primarily, the dispute pertains to the allocation of water resources during periods of water scarcity, the distribution of water during regular years, and the establishment of reservoirs and dams along the river’s course.
• Both states are vying for a greater portion of the river’s water to cater to the needs of their expanding populations and agricultural activities.

Observation Supreme Court of India
• The Supreme Court, in 2018, declared the Cauvery River a national resource and upheld the water-sharing arrangements determined by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT). Additionally, the Central Government was directed to formalise the Cauvery Management Scheme.

Constitutional Provisions
• Article 246 of the Constitution grants the Centre and States certain powers over water resources.
• Article 262 of the Constitution deals with the adjudication of water disputes. The provisions in this regard
Article 262 (1) Parliament may, by law, provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-State river or river valley.
Article 262 (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).

Statutory Provisions
• The Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956, provides the legal framework for the resolution of these disputes.
• It empowers the Union Government to intervene in disputes surrounding inter-state rivers when negotiations between states fail.
• A Water Disputes Tribunal is then constituted for the adjudication of the water dispute.
• The Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019: It was introduced to streamline the adjudication of inter-state river water disputes.
• It proposes the establishment of a single, standalone tribunal with a permanent office space and infrastructure.
• It aims to replace the existing nine tribunals, including those for the Cauvery, Mahadayi, Ravi, Beas, Vansadhara, and Krishna rivers.
• It proposes the establishment of a Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) to amicably resolve inter-state water disputes within a maximum period of one year and six months.
• Any dispute that cannot be settled by negotiations shall be referred to the Tribunal for adjudication. 

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