Cauvery Water Authority orders Karnataka to release water for Tamil Nadu

2 Oct 2023 by The Water Diplomat

On the 27th of September the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) ordered the State of Karnataka to release 85 m³ of water per second to downstream Tamil Nadu for 18 days, starting from September 28. This decision is the latest development in a water dispute between Indian federal states that dates back more than a century, when both Mysore (now Karnataka) and Madras (now Tamil Nadu) proposed using the water of the Cauvery River for respectively dam construction and irrigation development. According to a colonial era agreement from 1924, what is now Tamil Nadu – along with Puducherry - would receive 75% of the allocation from the river, while 23% would be allocated to what is now Karnataka State.

Tamil Nadu had originally applied to the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee for an allocation of 679 m³/second, which was subsequently lowered to 85 m³/sec. Karnataka State had argued for its part that their dams had experiences shortfalls in water inflow of more than 53% of the average following a weak monsoon. When the CWMA announced its decision, Karataka adhered to the terms of the release as stipulated by the CWMA but took the matter to the Supreme Court of India for review.  However, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the CWMA, arguing that the latter is a specialist body which was better placed to make such decisions

Stated In 1990, the Government of India constituted the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal to adjudicate upon the allocation of the water of the Cauvery River between the three Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu as well as the Union territory of Puducherry. The Cauvery River flows through southern India and is primarily used for irrigation.