Millennium Post

Quiet flows the Cauvery

It is time that the centre seriously intervenes in the Cauvery water dispute to prevent further escalation of mistrust that exists between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on the issue and already weighs heavily upon their administrative and political decision making. The centre should ensure, as an impartial and well-meaning referee, that water sharing act that follows between the two states is stuck to even in dire circumstances so not to force any of the two states to go back on its promises when a bad monsoon beckons. This is exactly what J Jayalalithaa,the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, has accused Karnataka of doing. As per her allegations it was because of Karnataka’s reluctance to release water that has resulted in very low storage in the Mettur Dam, which is in turn harming the sowing of short term crops in Tamil Nadu. The government of Tamil Nadu has promised a slew of measures to subsidise agriculture and is now aiming at wooing the farmers to sow long-term crops instead with expectations of further monsoons in months to come. But this cannot be a solution.

What is at stake is the long term health of the agricultural economy of the states and the nation in general and both states must realise that they have to evolve a give-some-take-some approach to realise the full potential of the distress-sharing agreement that has been signed between them. As per the estimates of the Tamil Nadu government, instead of 95.480 tmcft of Cauvery water that should have been released at Mettur Dam, as on 23 August, only 9.187 tmcft has been released. Even by the ‘distress sharing formula’ or logic that the Central Water Commission had stipulated, at least 43.837 tmcft of water should have been released, Jayalalitha claimed. It is in the wake of this shortfall that the Tamil Nadu chief minister has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to immediately convene a meeting of the Cauvery River Authority. The prime minister should not sit on this issue. This has been a year of bad monsoons and the prime minister should not do anything that may further aggravate the problems faced by the farmers. Of course, the solution to this has to be evolved in an agreeable climate and the centre should come forward to ensure that no one suffers in this country for unequivocal access to natural resourses. It should ensure that agreement is reached and water released to the needy as soon as possible.
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