• Recently, the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) directed Karnataka to immediately release the balance quantum of water to Tamil Nadu.
  • However, CWMA dropped discussion on the Mekedatu reservoir project following “strong protest” from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

Important points:

  • It involves 3 states and one Union Territory (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Puducherry).
  • The genesis of the dispute is 150 years old and dates back to the two agreements of arbitration in 1892 and 1924 between the then Madras presidency and Mysore.
  • It entailed the principle that the upper riparian state must obtain consent of lower riparian state for any construction activity viz. reservoir on the river Cauvery.

Mekedatu Reservoir Project:

  • It aims to store and supply water for drinking purposes for the Bengaluru city. Around 400 megawatts (MW) of power is also proposed to be generated through the project.
  • In 2018, Tamil Nadu approached the SC against the project even if Karnataka had held that it would not affect the flow of water to Tamil Nadu.
  • TN is opposed to any project being proposed in the upper riparian unless it was approved by the SC.

River Cauvery

  • It is known as ‘Ponni’ in Tamil, also known as Ganga of the south, and it is the fourth largest river of southern India.
  • It is a sacred river of southern India. It rises on Brahmagiri Hill of the Western Ghats in southwestern Karnataka state, flows in a southeasterly direction through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and descends the Eastern Ghats in a series of great falls and drains into Bay of Bengal through Pondicherry.
  • Some of its tributaries are Arkavathi, Hemavathi, Lakshmana Theertha, Shimsa, Kabini and Harangi.

Way Forward

  • The states need to shed the regional approach as the solution lies in cooperation and coordination, not in conflict. The planning must be done at the basin level to make the solution sustainable and ecologically viable.
  • In the long term, there is a need to recharge the river through afforestation, river linking, etc and increased focus is needed on increasing water use efficiency viz. micro irrigation, awareness in people to prudently use water and water smart strategies.


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