A resolution to the Cauvery water-sharing row between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu must involve a radical change to attitudes towards water conservation, including recycling and appropriate pricing of the natural resource, observed a discussion organised by the Bangalore International Centre here on Monday.

Participants at the discussion felt the principles behind river water allocations to the two States should be revisited. They observed that the noise over the issue rises every year, only to die down after the onset of the North-East monsoon in Tamil Nadu.

They also proposed that the Centre bring all rivers under its jurisdiction. A resolution to the dispute should draw from the peaceful sharing of waters of the Rhine and Danube in Europe, while also being a model to similar conflicts in India.

Chaired by former chairman of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission SL Rao, the participants included eminent hydrologist and meteorologist Prakash MK Ramesh of the National Law School and Veena Srinivasan of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE).

Blaming falling groundwater levels and administrative failures at all levels for leading to the dispute, the participants called for the spread of technologies that reduce water consumption and for increasing punitive cost. The provision of free [hydro] electricity has also resulted in

Urban water use must also be controlled through appropriate pricing. Over 80 per cent of urban waste water can be recycled for use as is done in Singapore so effectively.

“With climate change, India is headed for water scarcity and must begin to use effective conservation techniques. These must include rain-water harvesting, recharge of aquifers, storage in periods for good monsoons, recycling of water, desalination plants for sea water, cleaning up and desilting rivers, lakes and other water bodies,” Rao said.