'Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.' as said by the famous poet English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Tamil Nadu (TN) is bordering three other water rich states Andhra Pradesh (AP), Kerala and Karnataka has the mighty ocean on the fourth side. Millions of gallons of water but not a drop to drink. Are these water wars or water woos of TN. A section of media predicts one way while the other says the other. However let us suggest a median dialect for the issue as 'water struggle'. TN since time immemorial had been persuading the neighbours to part with water they had. And even got into various agreements and treaties. But off late the water seems to be highly-inflammable than pure fuel between the states.
Till some time we had the issue with AP over the Krishna Waters. However the issue seems to be settled with regular inflow trickling down to TN reservoirs. Another issue in 2006 was surrounded around the Palar river, which originates in Karnataka and flows for a distance of 222km in TN via AP, serves as a lifeline for the water-starved Vellore district of TN, besides catering to Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts and parts of Chennai. After AP government decided to construct a reservoir across the river at Ganeshapuram near Kuppam in Chittoor district, TN government moved the Supreme Court on February 10, 2006, during the DMK regime. However the AP government retorted that no construction has ever been planned and it was a mere proposal.
And the cauvery issue with Karnataka is a regular issue. Water from cauvery river has been a bone of contention between the states of Karnataka and TN and its erstwhile Kingdom of Mysore and Madras Presidency and thus a century old dispute. The river originates in Karnataka, flows through TN, and parts of Kerala and Pondicherry. In 1997 the Union Water Resource Ministry made both the states to sit and discuss the issue. As per the underastanding they agreed on two projects, one in in Mekedatu in Karnataka and other in Hogenakkal in TN. However none were implemented due to strong protests from the public in Karnataka. The Cauvery River Authority nominated by the former NDA government is still an infant and most of its rulings have not been implemented by the Karnataka state. However the friendly neighbour has been using all resources to use TN as a piece of convenience as per reports. The Cauvery dam which holds 58.50 TMC ft in February, as per reports now has only 28.50 TMC ft of water. That's an outrageous depletion of more than 30 TMC feet in three months. And Karnataka has carefully utilised the water for its own agicultural purposes. This leaves the state at the mercy of the severe monsoons for its Kuruvai crop.
Of course with Kerala our saga is also a century stand. First we had the Mullai Periyar Dam (MP Dam) and now some more dam proposals over the River Siruvani and the Attapadi Irrigation Scheme. In the first case, Kerala wants to demolish the old dam and construct a new dam in its place. As the government feels that the Dam is pretty old and could break at any point of time. Again TN had to take the legal route and a central Empowering committe had been constituted to inspect the dam. And as per the report suggested that the dam is healthy but incase if both the governments want could look for a new one.
On the whole water has turned into a messy affair for the state on all sides, with exception to our friendly AP. In the case of Karnataka, none of the points instructed by the Cauvery Tribunal have been adhered by the state. And in the case of Kerala, they are still contemplating the safety and want to proceed with new proposals which would affect TN irrigation. Experts say legal options to end the long-standing dispute already exist. But any resolution to end the crisis will have to wait until the politicking surrounding the water disputes in the four southern states is brought to an end.
With an abled administrator at the helm, who has all figures and data at the tips of her fingers, the issues ought to be sorted out in an amicable way. Tamil Nadu has never demanded a pound of anybody's flesh but only wanted its rightful share. And the government is all out to get the necessary legitimate share by all means. (With inputs from internet-AarKay)