Kannada Okkuta, a regional group in Karnataka for the organization of Kannada-speaking people in the state, ahead of the Karnataka bandh, warns the state government of Karnataka against actions to restrict the protests. The protestors will keep the highways, toll gates, airports, and rail services shut as part of the bandh. Furthermore, schools and colleges in Karnataka will also be closed on Friday in support of the protest.
The cause of protests is the long-standing conflicts over the Cauvery River water disputes. The refusal by the Supreme Court to mediate in the implementation of the water-sharing agreements between the states, followed by the release of water from the Cauvery River to Tamil Nadu, is the immediate cause of the current protests. The state-wide bandh is to be organized on Friday. Earlier this week, on Tuesday, the protestors organized a bandh. This semi-successful bandh created a lot of difficulties for the public by generating massive traffic jams. Opposition parties, including JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy and BJP leader Tejasvi Surya, also join the protest against the Karnataka government on this issue in Bengaluru. The protestors say that the state of Karnataka has received about 66 percent of the deficit rainfall this year, which is the lowest rainfall received in Karnataka over the last hundred years.
150-year-long Cauvery River water dispute
The 150-year-old Cauvery River water dispute still has some enduring impacts on the people residing alongside it. Politics and the climate crisis have made matters worse over the years. Today, as protests surface all over Karnataka, the conflicts have entered a new phase.
The River Cauvery is a South Indian River, and its catchment area extends over three Indian states: Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and a Union Territory, Puducherry. It originates at the Coorg District in Karnataka and passes to other states, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The river is very crucial for the farmers, who depend on it for irrigation for the cultivation of paddy in the delta of this river. Like any other river water dispute in the nation, the Cauvery Water Disputes started over the sharing of water from the Cauvery between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. In 1956, the Indian Government passed the Interstate Water Dispute Act with the aim of resolving issues related to river water sharing. Sixty-seven years after the passing of the Act, the Center and states still find no viable solution for long-standing disputes.
In 2018, the Supreme Court stated in its order on this issue that “being in a state of flow, no state can claim exclusive ownership of such waters or assert a prescriptive right to deprive other states of their equitable share.” Accordingly, the Center, upon the direction of the Supreme Court, created the Cauvery Water Management Authority to enact this verdict.
The protests again erupted on a large scale when, on August 14, this year, the Tamil Nadu government approached the Supreme Court for intervention for the release of 24000 cusecs of water from the Cauvery river reservoirs to Tamil Nadu.
Cauvery Water Management Authority
CWMA is a regulatory body established by the law of the Indian government. It has been created to supervise and manage the equitable distribution and sharing of water from the River Cauvery to its riparian states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, as well as the Union territory of Puducherry. Since its inception in 2018, it has been formulating various ideas and projects to achieve the aim for which it has been established. The Mekedatu Project was one such project aimed at solving the drinking water problems in Bengaluru.