The Supreme Court, on September 5, ordered the Karnataka government to increase the amount of water it releases to its neighbor Tamil Nadu from the river Cauvery for 10 consecutive days. The SC’s recent order has sparked off a series of protests in Karnataka, with IT offices and schools shutting down in protest.
The Cauvery dispute, as it has been popularly termed, has been a long-standing issue of contention between the two states. However, this isn’t the only dispute in the country relating to water woes. Raging arguments and debates are common across the span of the country when it comes to ownership over rivers. Here’s a look at the other river disputes in the country:
Punjab, Rajasthan, and Haryana entered an agreement in 1981 to share the waters of Ravi, Beas and Satluj. Prior to the agreement, on Harayana’s suggestion, a Satluj-Yamuna link canal was decided to be built on Satluj, with Haryana completing its part of the canal by 1980. Punjab agreed to complete their part of the canal within a span of two years.
However in 1990, Punjab stopped the construction of the link canal, which by then was 90% finished. Ever since, the State has received constant directions from various authorities to complete work on the canal, but to no avail.
On March 14, 2016, the Punjab Assembly unanimously passed a resolution- the Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal Land (Transfer of Property Rights) Bill, 2016 to return 3,928 acres of acquired land for the proposed project.
The waters of the river Krishna are shared between Maharashtra, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. While Karnataka initially received a lion’s share of the water arising from the river, the current dispute lies in the division between Telengana and Andhra Pradehs’s share, with the former being recently carved out of the state in 2014. Both the states share Andhra Pradesh’s waters at present.
In 2015, the Telengana government sought fresh allocation of the disputed waters before the Supreme Court. This move was however, protested by Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Courting yet another controversy with regards to water is the Tamil Nadu government’s long-term tryst with the Kerala government over the Mullaiperiyar dam built over the Periyar River. Though the dam belongs to Kerala, a 999-year lease agreement was signed by the British, King of Travancore and Madras Presidency, allowing Tamil Nadu to operate the dam and complete ownership of water from the river.
The two states were at loggerheads regarding the structure of the dam. While multiple studies conducted by the Kerala government indicated that the dam should not be raised above 136 ft owing to its weak structure, the Tamil Nadu government was adamant on raising the height of the dam to 142 ft.
In May 2014, a 5-member committee appointed by the Supreme Court deemed the dam to be fit enough for a raise in height level to the proposed 142 ft. However, Kerala government opposed the move, demanding the dam either be rebuilt or maintain the same height. The Kerala government has currently sought the Centre’s intervention over building a new dam on the Periyar River.
Apart from disputes within the country over water, India has waged arguments over rivers flowing across borders as well. The Teesta River flowing across the India-Bangladesh border is one such case. The dispute surrounding this river is over water-sharing during the lean season that stretches between October 1 and April 30. At present, the countries have reached a 40-40 agreement, where the remaining 20 per cent is reserved to preserve environmental flow of the river.
Yet another long-drawn river dispute is over the Brahmaputra River flowing through China and India. While China has around five dams across the river at various points, the current issue revolves around India’s demand to build a dam in Siang, Arunachal Pradesh to generate 54 GW of power. The Indian government also has plans to generate over 57,000 MW of hydroelectric power via various projects across the river.