The states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in India are fighting over the Kaveri (Cauvery) River water, while India needs a solution to many other social problems. Rivers, without knowing and unintentionally flow between these two states, because neither God nor water knows any kind of boundary or difference. He must be astonished to see his creation and thinking that on one side Indians worship water and on the other hand fight over it as they cannot share it. This water conflict is the result of two controversial agreements that were signed in 1892 and 1924. Like most of the disputes in India, it was initiated under British rule. At that time the dispute was between the Mysore and Madras Province and even after so many years it is in the headlines every now and then. Both the states at present depend upon Kaveri water for various industrial and daily needs.The river itself gets abundant water during the rainy season. But as the population is growing, scarcity of water has been felt and this ultimately resulted in a conflict. The dispute flares up more when there is scanty rainfall.
The river basin in the state of Tamil Nadu is more than that in it in Karnataka, so the Government of India has directed more use of its water by the state of Tamil Nadu. But on the other hand the Karnataka state people argues that water contribution from their state is more so it is their right to use more water. But each time the decision of using water depends upon the ruling party at Center and State. For an example, in 2002 the decision was in the favor of Tamil Nadu as at that time BJP was ruling at the Center and Congress in Karnataka. Not only this, though at very small level Kerala and Pondicherry are also involved in the dispute as these two states also depend upon Kaveri River water to some extent. Two major dams on Kaveri River, Krishna Raja Sagar dam in Mandya (Karnataka) and Mettur dam in Salem (Tamil Nadu) are in debate. Water requirement in two states in 57% more than the total water stored in these two dams.
The dispute seems to be never-ending and sometimes take a very violent turn. In the year 1991, riots broke out of this dispute and killed almost 18 people. Blocking of the national highway and other means of transport is common to see during this time. Migrants from the opposite states are attacked and so because of fear they stay at home.
Solution to this should be found out by taking into account the whole situation, how water is going to be used and who needs it more rather than just proving one’s point without thinking the consequences. Political parties make full use of this issue to win votes. In day to day life it is not the political leaders who face the problem of water as they may have never felt shortage of water even for a second. But it is actually the farmers and common man in both the states who are completely dependent upon water for farming and their livelihood. So the actual victims must be identified and involved while finding the solution and it should not be focused on the boundaries. Politicians will have to stop using this as a vote-winning agenda but some serious considerations must be given to this issue as there are many other problems to be solved once this has been worked upon. We at present are just piling up the issues and definitely a day will come when we will be under the burden of so many things that we won’t have solution to any of the problem.
We have to stop thinking that it is just for me and I cannot share it. There should be a peaceful solution to the problem as every problem has a solution if taken seriously and with the intention of solving it. If we really want a solution then we have to take initiative and start conserving water at individual level than wasting it. More efforts should be given at larger level for rain water harvesting than depending just upon Kaveri River water. Industrial use of water can be controlled and industries that can survive on recycled water should be forced to do so. Though in many cities such solutions are being implemented but we have to be very practical in our approach.
There used to be many small lakes as well as rivers in both these states which are now dead because of flourishing industries. These used to be the source of water supply when required but now as these are no more so our dependence on Kaveri River water has increased to many folds. Efforts should be made to revive these lakes and rivers so that there are alternate sources of water. Not only this, but there are many more inter-state water disputes across the country. We have to start thinking about water issue more seriously otherwise we won’t get water to drink. A temporary solution of calming down just the farmers for time being won’t do anything as the problem will still remain there. Both supply-side and demand-side should be checked for finding the solution. Involve everyone from agricultural scientist, farmers, politicians to bureaucrats and man-in-the-street. Agricultural economy of both the states should be redefined and consider not only the shortfall of water but also the future scenario like changing climate and shortage of rainfall due to this. Instead of water demanding crops emphasis should be laid down on crops that require less water and have more nutritional value.
To find a solution of any problem, first there should be a change in the mindset and then the problem should be analyzed to find its root level cause.