Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has welcomed the notification of the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, which stipulates the sharing of the waters of the Cauvery among the riparian States.
The Union Government notified the award on Tuesday (February 19), and announced it today. This is the culmination of a 22-year struggle which began in 1991 when she had been the Chief Minister for the first time.
The notification binds the upper riparian State of Karnataka to share the waters of the Cauvery and ensures the Tamil Nadu farmers’ rights to the water, she said.
The Chief Minister said, “This is, I would really say, the happiest day in my life. It is also happiest day for the farmers of Tamil Nadu, especially, for the farmers in the Cauvery Delta districts.”
“I am sure since this has been notified now in the Gazette of India, it becomes binding on Karnataka. And hereafter Karnataka cannot refuse to obey the order of the Tribunal. So I hope in future there will be no problem and when there is abundant water, we hope that we will receive our due share and when there is distress we will abide by the directions given in the final order, final award of the Tribunal as to how distress should be shared,” she said.
The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal was constituted on June 2, 1990, to resolve the inter-state river dispute. The States impacted were: Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the Union Territory of Pondicherry. The final order was passed on February 5, 2007 by the Tribunal.
The Tribunal has estimated the utilisable quantity in the river at 740 thousand million cubic feet (tmc), the normal flow, allocated Tamil Nadu 419 tmc; Karnataka 270 tmc; Kerala 30 tmc; and Pondicherry 7 tmc. In addition, 10 tmc is estimated for environmental protection and 4 tmc for ‘inevitable seepages.’ When there is a shortage, the “allocated shares shall be proportionately reduced.”
The order also determines the monthly releases of water to be made by Karnataka, the upper riparian State to Tamil Nadu. These are two major shareholders.
The Chief Minister said, “Personally for me this is a tremendous victory. After spending more than 30 years in politics, this is the first time in all these 30 years that I have experienced a sense of fulfilment and a sense of achievement today because we have permanently secured Tamil Nadu’s rights over the Cauvery Water for Tamil Nadu.”
She said, “In 1991 the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal gave its interim award on June 25, 1991. I had resumed charge as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the first time just a day before on June 24, 1991.”
Long-drawn court battle
Since then it has been a long-drawn court battle, “a prolonged struggle to get our share of water because Karnataka refused to honour the interim award of the tribunal. And on every occasion whenever we needed water it was not made available, was never released according to the weekly schedule prescribed in the Tribunal’s Interim Order.”
Tamil Nadu had to resort the Supreme Court before the Cauvery River Authority and the Monitoring Committee were constituted to oversee the implementation of the interim award and orders of the Cauvery River Authority.