Friday, October 5, 2012

Kaveri River Water Sharing : What Are The Solutions?

Kaveri or Cauvery river is one of the 7 holiest rivers for Hindus. In many Dharmic poojas, the water filled into the kalasha or holy vessel, is adored with a chant. "Gange cha Yamune chaiva, Godavari Saraswati. Narmada Sindhu Kaveri, Jalesmin Sannidhim Kuru". It essentially means the water being used for the worship of Bhagawan or Bhagawati, is as sacred as the combination of all 7 holy rivers.

Mother Kaveri's Statue. {Source: Deccan Herald}
Kaveri is the "Jeeva Nadi" or life sustaining river. It is very highly revered by both Kannada (also Kodava) and Tamil people. You can hear 100s of celebratory songs like the super hit song Kodagina Kaveri . You can also see many customary celebrations like Aadi Perukku which is a very special time for Kaveri delta people. In short, SHE is the mother for those who live along its banks.. and SHE is theirs! These people do not understand the artificial linguistic state formation boundaries, politics, courts and other systems.

But today, when you hear Kaveri, what comes to your mind? If you are a person from Tamil Nadu (or Pudhucherry for some part) the "villain" is a state to the north west, Karnataka. If you are from Karnataka (or to some extent Kerala), the "villain" is a state to the south east, Tamil Nadu. And, this is not something that is for just 2012 or 2007 or 2002 or 1991.. this is happening for over 200 years now. The holiest of rivers adored and worshiped as "Kaveri Maata" or Mother Kaveri, has become a humongous political, agricultural, legal, economic and propaganda fight in South India. It does not even leave students or movie industry folks..

Why did this happen? How did this happen? Is there any way out, even if the process is gradual?

For that some basics will be needed. No, I am not going to present every detail about how the dispute got magnified till this time. There are enough resources in internet, court papers, government documents and in media for you to read through. Also, if you are reading till here, most likely you have a special interest in this case, as for most India out of South India, this is just one of those "burning" issues that keep coming up again and again. Like Telangana, Amarnath Yatra, state border disputes and more. Not much interest will be left by now, for those folks. So this is for only those who have a stake in Kaveri water or those who want a peaceful south India in the long run. I am in no way an expert in this topic, but since I drink Kaveri water every day, I have special interest in learning more from my readers here. For that I will present what I have understood about the topic and seek your comments and/or corrections.

Map of the River:

Kaveri is born at Talakaveri in south Western mountains of Karnataka. After Talakaveri, you will find a long list of sacred places and temple towns all through its 765 KM flow towards south East, where it merges with Bay of Bengal. Out of this trek, 320 KM is in Karnataka and 416 is in Tamil Nadu. Some of the places are, Bhagamandala, Kushalnagar, Srirangapartna and T Narasipura in Karnataka. Then Mettur, Bhavani-Thirunana, Erode, Kodumudi, Karur, Tiruchirappalli/Srirangam, Thiruvaiyaru, Swamimalai, Kumbha konam, Mayavaram and Poompuhar in Tamil Nadu.

Kaveri River Map. {Source: jazztravels}

There are many tributaties of Kaveri like Hemavati, Shimsha, Arkavathy (now dry), Kabini, Bhavani, Noyyal and Amaravati. The majestic Shivanasamudra falls and Hogenikal falls are very famous tourist destination getting lakhs of people each year.

Dams and sizes:

Kaveri may be a small river among the 7 giant rivers of India mentioned above (with Saraswati dry now), but it does have many dams.

KRS Dam, Karnataka. {Source: InMysore}
But the two key dams to note are Krishna Raja Sagar dam in Mandya district of Karnataka and Mettur dam in Salem district of Tamil Nadu.

KRS dam, built in 1924, is 125 feet tall, 3 KM in length and can store a max capacity of 49 TMC of water. 

Mettur Dam, Tamil Nadu. {Source: Wikipedia}
Mettur dam, built in 1934, is 120 feet tall, 1.7 KM in length and can store a max capacity of 93.4 TMC of water.

Leaving aside dead storage capacity, you can assume that KRS dam can hold about 44 TMC of water and Mettur can hold about 88 TMC of water. So approximately, Mettur can hold twice as much water as KRS dam. Incidentally, KRS was built entirely by the great engineer Bharat Ratna, Sir M. Vishveshwaraiah and I have heard that he gave the design for Mettur dam too. One thing is in common. both are very vital dams and both are very old. One other important thing to note, all dams in Karnataka together can hold only around 10% of the annual water flow in Kaveri that is in excess of 725 TMC.


Kaveri water sharing discussions and disputes go back over 200 years. Right from the beginning of 19th century, there are discussions involving the Mysore independent princely state (now part of Karnataka) and Madras British Presidency (now Tamil Nadu). The two key agreements to note are from 1892 and 1924. There were other minor agreements too. While Karnataka kept asking right after independence to repeal these British era agreements and form new one, Tamil Nadu insisted on the same, as there was a huge advantage for it to keep them. So everything boiled down to 1991 tribunal interim order and 2007 final order from Indian government.
Details of Kaveri water sources, usage area and contentions. {Source: Wikipedia}
The table in the image above (click on it for a bigger display) shows the basin area, drought area, sources of water per each state's arguments, quantity sought by each state and what is currently in vogue per the 2007 Kaveri Water Tribunal verdict. The numbers are complex, and contentious. Lots of court paperwork exists for those who want to research further. If you see one of the rows showing the demand of states involved, the total quantity of water will be 157% of what is available during an average year. So it is impossible, to give what the states are asking, as the demand is too higher than supply.

But at a higher level, approximately, 30% of the water river sources are in Tamil Nadu and 53% are in Karnataka. Also, approximately 54% of the river basin area is in Tamil Nadu and 42% is in Karnataka. And finally, the Government of India appointed (chaired by the Prime Minister of India) and monitored tribunal says 58% of the water should be used by Tamil Nadu and 37% by Karnataka. To keep matters simple, I am not getting into Pudhucherry and Kerala's matters which involve the final 5% of water usage.

In reality, the core contention between the states is the source, usage and times of usage of water.

Crop and Rain Patterns:

Paddy cultivation in Kaveri delta. {Source: Indiawaterportal}
Paddy, Sugarcane, Ragi and Jowar are the four major crops grown along Kaveri river basin. Out of these, Mandya district of Karnataka and Tanjavur, Pudukottai, Tiruchirapalli and Kadalur districts of Tamil Nadu grow the most water intensive Paddy. Kadalur in TN is also growing the most sugar cane, another highly water intensive crop.

Domestic Water Consumption from Kaveri. {Source: Indiawaterportal}
When it comes to drinking water projects using Kaveri, it is mostly in Karnataka. As you can see in the image here showing water consumtion at urban local bodies, Bengaluru has a skyscraper literally. Many other towns and cities across south Karnataka depend heavily or solely on Kaveri for drinking water of urban population.

For those seriously interested in learning more about Kaveri delta's crop patterns, please refer to India Water Portal for a wealth of information.

In Karnataka, Mandya is the most blessed district as it grows very high quality crops using Kaveri. In Tamil Nadu, coastal Kaveri delta grows 3 crops in Kaveri delta. Jun-Sep Kuruvai, July-Jan Samba paddy and Oct-Feb Taladi. Kaveri delta farmers of Karnataka get rain only from SW Monsoon (Jun-Sep). TN Kaveri farmers get both SW and NE Monsoons (NE starts in Oct).

Main complaints from Karnataka:

1) Disproportionate Usage by Tamil Nadu: While only 30% or so water sources of Kaveri are from Tamil Nadu, why should it be allowed to use 65 to 70% of water each year, including the water that flows downstream anyway? Both are Indian states, and when Karnataka contributes to 53% of water to the river, restricting it to use only 37% or less of water is unjust.

2) Distress formula, drinking water and North East Monsoon: This is a major problem with Kaveri water sharing agreements and tribunals. There's NO practical formula when rains fail. For instance, in the year 2012, nearly half of rains have failed. During such years, distress has to be equally shared between the states. The Prime Minister, who heads the tribunal should not force monthly water to be released per regular year computations, when there is half rain as a regular year. What Karnataka farmers say, there's usually more water in early October in TN reservoirs than Karnataka (56 TMC in TN as of Oct 3rd, 2012, while around 46 TMC in KA). And it rains 2 to 3 more months in TN still. Why should central government side against Karnataka to dry the dams in October in such condition? Once water is left, it does not climb up gravitational pull to a upper riparian state. Some even quote UN A/HRC/RES/18/1 Human Rights clause to say that drinking water in Karnataka should be a higher priority than 2nd or 3rd crop being grown in Tamil Nadu, when water is scarce.

3) TN is a bullying neighbour, right from British era: Just today in the newspapers, an expert L Sandesh wrote Cauvery row: 200 years of oppression by Tamil Nadu. There are books, papers, documentaries and countless such arguments that Karnataka (and Mysore before) is made to suffer due to a lopsided British agreement which was heavily against the interests of Karnataka all along. Worse, terrorists like LTTE and smugglers/killers like Veerappan have bullied the state in an undemocratic way. Another point that keeps coming up in news papers is that since Tamil Nadu has India's largest number of registered regional parties, it has a bigger political muscle to use in Dilli against Karnataka, in the era of coalition politics.

4) Not allowed to expand or build new dams: This is also a common complaint. Karnataka has not been allowed to build/enhance any Kaveri dam for decades. Any irrigation or drinking water project, usually sees a court battle from TN. When the population of Bengaluru doubled in the past 20 years, the number of farmers needing water in 4 to 5 districts is very high, more water should be made available to the state that contributes over half of Kaveri water, is their argument.

5) Cultivated area mismatch: This goes hand in hand some of the above ones. There is no definite per district cultivated land area as the numbers keep varying. But at a high level, it is safe to assume that Tamil Nadu cultivates 2.5 to 3 times the area that Karnataka cutivates using Kaveri water. Some of this addition in TN was done in violation of the 1924 agreement that was in vogue till 1974, where max limits were proposed to both states. That is the argument of Karnataka farmers.

6) Water wasted at Bay of Bengal: In spite of all this heavy fight for TMC by TMC of water, lots of water gets wasted into the sea at TN. Why can't it be used more productively, instead of snatching more from Karnataka?

Main complaints from Tamil Nadu:

1) Violation of Supreme Court orders: This is the most popular phrase in any Tamil Nadu politics. Karnataka is a bad state that violates supreme court orders. Details are provided to show how crops are standing and Karnataka is storing water in the dams, but not releasing as per court orders or Tribunal orders. Note that there is a frequent plea to gazette the tribunal order and also to strictly monitor monthly release of water from Karnataka.

2) Violence and Disruption: In 1991, when the interim order of Kaveri tribunal came through, which was strongly opposed in Karnataka, riots broke out. 18 people were killed in this primarily anti Tamil Nadu riots. Small scale reprisals happened in TN too, but this terrible period under Congress government in Karnataka, is often cited as how intolerant and violent Karnataka people can get, when it comes to river water sharing. Also, since the most active national highway in southern India, NH-4 from Mumbai to Chennai, passes through Karnataka for a big 500+ KM distance, lots of vehicle movement disruption and damage happened in the past.

3) Manage your water sources better: Why punish TN farmers when Karnataka fails to take care of its irrigation and drinking water projects better? Clean up the lakes, revive other rivers, but don't reduce Kaveri water that is the lifeline of millions of farmers in TN Kaveri delta.

4) Karnataka gets more rain and has more water sources: Annual rainfall in Karnataka is 1248 mm.Tamil Nadu receives less than 1000 mm of rain on an average. Why not use other rivers in Karnataka and let Kaveri be used by mostly Tamil Nadu as it is done for 1000s of years? There are no major water sources other than Kaveri for central and coastal TN.

5) Insensitive neighbour: Karnataka does not care for Tamil Nadu people. By blocking Kaveri river, which is "our" right, it is turning the fertile arable land into desert. In here, you can see lots of videos and propaganda material showing that Karnataka is a bad neighbour. Listen to some of the speeches of politicians.

6) Can't Trust Karnataka and Wait till January: When KRS and other smaller Karnataka dams are close to being full in September, even though there is water in Mettur dam in TN, we can't trust Karnataka to hold our share of water till December or January, when crops need this water. That's why we need water to be released monthly.


Before getting into solutions, the most important ground realities to note are :-
  • Kaveri is a sacred river for all those who use it directly or indirectly.
  • Kaveri water has to be shared by all those who have a stake at it. This is for today, 10 years from now and even 500 years from now. 
  • There is NOT enough water in Kaveri already, to support the drinking water needs of over 2 crore people and the irrigation needs of 81,000 sq KM area. Compared to bigger rivers, 700-800 TMC total water availability here is low.
  • Only rivers connected to Kaveri area must be considered in computations and arguments. For instance west flowing rivers in coastal Karnataka get lots of rain, but can't be of any use to Mandya farmers or Bengaluru homes. Similarly, water sources in Tamil Nadu dependent on Kerala or Andhra Pradesh can't be discussed in this matter, as they serve other areas of the state.
  • No matter what politicians and other "my state only" organizations say, Kaveri river is NOT any one state's property. It has to be shared. Shared today, tomorrow and for ever. There is an entire generation of politicians on both sides, who have grown up doing "my state should get everything, you can go to hell" politics. That attitude does not help solve the vexed issue.
  • Since both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are progressive states that are doing very well in the Indian context, a peaceful co-existence is a must. For that water is a very essential source which can't lead to tension and legal/street battles.
Now that we know some ground principles of peaceful co-existence, let's look into what can be done:

1) Conserve Water: There are 100s of ways both urban and rural population can conserve water. You can be assured that as years progress, as population grows in both states, there will be lesser and lesser Kaveri water available. Check out some ideas like these. Also, drip irrigation for paddy is a novel option to explore.

2) Rain water harvesting: I am glad that Bengaluru corporation is not going to give building plan approvals now, if the new homes/buildings being constructed don't have rain water harvesting. Even existing houses can implement this as this video shows in simple terms.

3) Removing silt from dams: Across both states, massive effort must be done to remove silt from dams. When there is capacity for x TMC, fill the dams fully when the rains come, so that those 4 to 6 TMC missed out per dam will make a big impact during dry months.

4) Reviving smaller rivers: One river that comes to mind easily is Arkavathy river west of Bengaluru city. When I was a kid, I used to drink waters of Arkavathy river supplied from Tippagondana Halli reservoir. Now the river is dead. Revival plans are hearty to note. Such small effort will go a long way in reducing dependency on only Kaveri. Tamil Nadu could start with Noyyal river revival immediately which is polluted heavily and hard to use. Both states should revive every possible river as every TMC of water counts!

Puttenahalli Lake in Bengaluru, Revived. {Source: citizenmatters}
5) Reviving lakes: Tamil Nadu for instance had 40000 lakes in the year 1960. By the year 2000, it had lost 10,000 lakes! That's a huge number of lakes lost to pollution, industrial waste and encroachment. There should be a war like attempt by NGOs, common people and governments to revive the life sustaining lakes. One such fantastic effort is happening now in Karnataka, at the Puttenahalli lake area. Everyone knows that 100s of lakes around Bengaluru got gobbled by real state. Revive them. Again, every drop counts!

6) Preventing precious river water wasted into sea: I personally don't know what percentage of Kaveri water goes into sea unused, but going by the comparisons I have seen for Krishna river, it must be high. Use every drop of this precious river's water. 100s of TMC of water can be added to use by practical use of every drop of water.

7) Growing less water intensive crops: As you have noted from the crops section above, massive amount of water intensive paddy and sugar cane are grown by Kaveri delta farmers. Anywhere from 55 to 70% of the total crops grown could be paddy. Keep in mind, Tamil Nadu has access to only 3% of the water in India. Karnataka has the 2nd largest amount of dry land in India after Rajasthan. Why grow so much paddy which requires lots of water? Switch to less water intensive, but good nutritious millets. Or switch to paddy varieties that use half the water per KG (from 5000 liters to 2500 liters) like S Anand, a farmer from Huthenahalli, Chikkajala, demonstrated. Since majority of Kaveri water is used for agriculture and that too for paddy, this solution alone can save lots of water and save both states!

A Farmer suffering drought. {Source: The Hindu}
8) Distress formula: Share the hit of nature equally: If the rains are down by 30%, both states should take a hit of 30% water for that month or season. Be good neighbours during tougher times. Every 10 years or so, there is a massive drought in Kaveri area. 1991, 2002 and now 2012 are examples. Don't fight it all the way till Supreme Court as it only worsens the relations. CMs should sit down and agree on a reduced water sharing and crop cultivation for that year. The central government should not be partial to either of the states due to coalition compulsions. Both are Indian states, and the PM can't favour one state over another. Blame games are not going to help anyone. A farmer without water for crops or a house without drinking water is going to suffer no matter in which state.

9) Understand the 21st century's needs of both states, not 19th or 20th century demands: Yes, before the age of Mettur or KRS dams, majority of the water was available for Tanjavur & nearby areas for crops. So obviously generations of farmers depended solely upon that. But now things have changed. There's Mandya irrigated heavily. There is a very fast growing Bengaluru city that needs more water than ever before. There are districts long before Tanjavur or Kadalur in both states that have started irrigating from Kaveri. There is Hogenikal kind of new drinking water projects in TN. Tamil Nadu insisting on 2/3rd or more of water, while Karnataka insisting on half of Kaveri water is just not working out. It's a small river again, for the crores of population it supports. Sit and decide how to handle around 725 TMC of total annual water available, in the best possible way. No one is a victim, no one is a villain, if farmers talk to each other directly. After all every farmer and every user of Kaveri water is an Indian.

10) Think of other give and take policies: For instance Karnataka buys water from Maharashtra, the upper riparian state, during dry season by paying certain amount of crores per TMC. In 2004, Karnataka paid 3.3 crores Rupees to Maharashtra to buy 2 TMC of water in adverse conditions. Maybe power in return for water during hard times, or a share in agricultural crop yield for water. Think outside the box. I have repeated enough that there is not enough water for everyone's demand, so innovative approaches need to be developed.

If you read it all the way till here, I hope you really got some clarity on what the issue is, why it keeps popping up so often, and what are the possible ways we can think positively and resolve the issues. After all, Indians sharing water with Indians, Indians not bullying Indians and Indians living peacefully with other Indians will not be disliked by anyone..except the generation of politicians or street organizations that have thrived using this conflict.

Thanks to my online friends who raised some of these points during discussions and also gave some ideas.

Do drop in your comments, corrections, and ideas. I am by no means an expert in this area, so I am always willing to learn from the knowledgable. All I wish is peace.. Shantih!


  1. Quite comprehensive assessment. My two bits. 1. Careful efforts must be placed to de-link the issue from identity politics. A river basin association of water users from either side of the border could be initiated. Secondly, there should concerted efforts in increasing the green cover in the catchment of river (in Kodagu) which will have net positive effect on the runoff of the river. Also, incentives should be given by the state for farmers switching to non water intensive corps or for better crop management efforts. To conclude, we must acknowledge that people on either side of the border have radically different world views and different frames for understanding the Kaveri problem. Educating people through unbiased facts based on proper scientific assessment is needed. Also we need to understand in the given state of affairs due of complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of this Kaveri problem may reveal or create other problems on either side of the border

  2. Really an enlightening article.Warning I am from Bangalore so the below observation may contain some biases.

    1.As you pointed out we can not use 19 and 20 century formula for 21st century. its stupidity to the core.
    2. CRT should derive this formula every year as the rain pattern will vary vastly. This formula has to be derived not by a central committee,State committee but by he actual stake holder in this entire process the farmers of the region.
    3. The entire water distribution has to be done based on scientific data using ISRO satellites for ground water measurement etc.
    4. Extreme water intensive crops have to be discouraged over a period of time as the water demand is only going to increase in future and not other way round. We can think about high export oriented crops which make enough money for us to purchase any sugarcane , rice from international market if need be.
    5. We need to delink high emotions associated with water as we need to realize we are Indians first and TN folks must trust Karnataka folks in terms of water flow. In the above case if TN gets enough rain ( I truly pray for that ) there is no way the water can be returned to Karnataka.
    6. Politicians, filmstars and all other jokers must be kept at bay. Technical people with unbiased scientific data and stake holders ( farmers ) must be involved in resolving this issue.

  3. KIRAN ji awesome research on this topic well written kaveri problem is not solved fighting like KA.RA.WE or like double standards like congress not even for vote bank like our JDS and tamil nadu politicians what point in fighting between two children of a mother claiming she is my mother not yours ,our politician like good kings earlier selfless speak for good of all and using their think tanks come up with ideal solution for all disputes

  4. Well thought out article that gives both sides of the argument. No doubt that water sharing between two states is a vexed issue but the solution is certainly not court battles and aggressive posturing. This will only deteriorate the relationships between the states without addressing the core issue. Solutions suggested is pragmatic and worth implementing by both the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. During such times, measures taken to reduce wastage and recycle used water will be of immense help. But both recycling and reducing wastage requires good amount of investment and long term planning. Few steps taken now are insufficient and hence this has to be done on war footing.

    Government must enact laws to see that Industries that can use recycled water SHOULD do so. For e.g. paper industry, textile and poultry industry can do with recycled water ONLY. Such industries must be forced to implement water recycling systems. This can certainly save lot of water. Educating domestic and industrial consumers in avoiding water wastage is of paramount importance. Hope this is done soon.

    Finally, are we each of us ready to do our bit to salvage the situation. We can start by trying to save water we consume on a daily basis. For e.g we can limit the usage of water, excluding washing clothes & utensils, to 100 liters per person in every household and limit monthly usage of a medium household to between 25000-30000 liters. Each household can save thousands of liters of water this way. No doubt its difficult to start with but not impossible. Its each drop that makes the mighty ocean and hence every effort to save water will salvage such sad situation in the future.

    1. Many people have suggested the recycling of water aspect which I should have researched before completing the blog. But there's always an opportunity to learn amidst brilliant minds like you guys.

      Check dams, recycling water and many other superb solutions coming up. Keep them coming.

      India has enough brilliant minds to solve even the most jinxed issues like Kaveri water sharing. We just need to convince the policy makers about live and let live policies.

    2. Good analysis.India water portal reports that Rs 20 is being spent on bringing 1000 liters of water from Kaveri to Bangalore while it takes only Rs 12 to recycle water and make it drinkable.We need to look at this aspect urgently.Also Check dams like Gujarat are the way to go all over India.Bigger dams will cause more damage than their purported benefits.

    3. Prashant Vaidyaraj made sense. For all the info we've the wiki. For solutions we need scientists. As Nagesh Hegde says what we need is not lawyers but scientists.
      We've seen enough sociowater movements but not enough scientific solutions. That's the need of the hour. Wiki will take care of the rest!

  5. Balanced article on an sensitive issue. Its pointless to keep blaming each linguistic group, which currently is state, for something which the politicians use to whip up division. Its best to look at practical, current & future requirements, sensible plan for the future. Though my view has always been to Nationalize Water Bodies & ensure there is fair share to each state. At this critical juncture when our Agricultural growth is just hovering around 3%, solutions to this water sharing malaise should be effectively created.
    Jai Bharat...Vande Mataram

  6. Very informative blog on Kaaveri.We must create awareness about conserving water and use the available water in more productive way. The storage capacity of dams are not going to increase but the population will definitely increase.
    Really liked the some of the solutions you have provided to this problem.
    Long term solutions to these kind of problems is Atal ji's dream project "Interlinking of rivers" which unfortunately govt scrapped.

  7. Good article and very good reply by Mr Prashanth vaidyaraj, I just want to add that we urgently need to look at implementing urban waste management and recycling. this will help us 1)to take care of urban waste 2)generate electricity 3)water which can be recycled for industrial and agricultural purpose 4)fertilizer . multiple problems can be solved if we work on such integrated projects with long lasting effects.

  8. ಕನ್ನಡ ನಾಡಿನ ಜೀವನದಿ ಕಾವೇರಿ... ಕಾವೇರಿ ನದಿಯನ್ನು ವರ್ಣಿಸಿ ಹಾಡಿರುವ ಸುಂದರ ಹಾಡು

  9. Nice article. We should also look into the use of Check-dams and small canals to increase groundwater levels. Such a strategy along with interlinking of rivers has resulted in substantial increase in the GWL in Saurashtra region of Gujarat, another region with scanty rainfall and no perennial rivers. With increase in GWL, there would be lesser dependence on river water. Also, this technique can work in the long run only if we adopt more efficient irrigation techniques. So, the focus (with respect to agriculture) should be three-pronged: Check dams, interlinking of rivers, and drip irrigation.

  10. Good article. I actually wanted to write an article on this same line. But I will abandon it due to your very good post.

    There are a few points for which I do not have proofs and nor have I done any reasearch. But I believe you should be able to get them verified more easily than me.

    1) It is an international (UN?) policy that a nation (or state) that is at the juncture of sea should get a higher share of water than the place where the river is originating as the seashore will face severe hit during storms (again, I have not verified the authenticity of this)

    2) While "rain water harvesting" is mandatory in TN, it is not made mandatory in KA, which is known to boost ground water table levels. Deforestation coupled with lack of this rainwater harvesting is one of the reasons for reduction of amount of water coming out of KA. This is the reason why India should give water to Bangaladesh and it is the same reason why China cannot block water to India as per its ideas.

    3) Kerala is taking undue advantages while KA and TN are struggling to get basic needs. When there is no water for drinking or agriculture in these two states, Kerala wants Cauvery water to promote tourism in their state.

    4) The soil of the cauvery delta region in TN is a lot more fertile than the KA counterpart and so will require less water (again not verified but read it in a pro-kannada newsarticle)

    5) There are no solutions except possibly linking rivers nationwide. There are floods in North India but famine in South India. Since Ganges is more perennial, the north-indian biased central Govt. is not taking steps to link rivers.

    What do you think about the above points ?

    1. Just a small comment on the last point. Interlinking of rivers was first proposed at national level by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Suresh Prabhu. It has been in cold storage for so many years for only political reasons. Also, please dont generalise that there are floods in North India but famine in South India. Take Bundelkhand or Rajasthan for example. They are quite close to Ganga but still face drought year after year. So, it is safe to say that there is no North India-South India bias in not taking steps to link rivers.

    2. The reason why it was kept in cold storage was because it will not be welcomed by Ganges belt. No ?

      Also, I didn't intend to say North India does not face famine at all. Sorry if that sounded that way. My main point was that in the same nation, there are floods and famines at the same time.

  11. Extremely comprehensive with all points covered, importantly with a great humanitarian message - peace and a patriotic message - all are Indian! Hats off!!
    My two cents to the solution part:
    While we work out solutions by adopting one or more measures, for the sake of generations to come, we should seriously consider linking of rivers.
    Imagine if huge Himalayan rivers such as Ganga and Brahmaputra are linked to the central and southern rivers. They will solve at least two problems with one solution, that of
    1.Ensure adequate water for drinking and irrigation to people from all regions and states, and
    2. Reduce the impact of flood that people in North and East India experience ever so often.
    I'm sure with thinking hats on the knowledgeable and wise heads, we can solve these problems and live in harmony and peace with each other. Caveat needs to be exercised against politicization of issues and paying attention to provocative words.
    Jai Hind!!

  12. a well thought and balanced approach to kaveri issue. though a non-kanndiga residing in bangalore, i very much align with kannadigas on the issue. i personally see govt of india like a "bandar" here, gaining from the fight between two parties and thereby doing a "political" favour or getting a "political" gain.

    nevertheless, the kind of political mileage it creates, i'm doubtful this issue is going to die down unless dealt with a "hard hand", either by center, or hopefully, by karnataka govt.

    1. You might not know or understand the livelwood of hundred of thousands of villagers and farmers. The rice that they cultivate are not eaten by them. It is being supplied all through South

      You are only a consumer and not a contributor to GDP of Karnataka or Tamil Nadu. If there is no North Indian Congress support to any of them, we will resolve it. As said in the blog, whenever Congress is in power in KA (through Bharadwaj now), KA too has to do something like this for their survivor. From my side, I too have written to TN CM, Chief Secretary how to protect the River Water and how to construct and use Check Dams. AB Vajapayee was defeated by the Northies only. They deserve only the present Govt.

      Mr. Kiran, I also live in Bangalore.I could accept many of your points in your article. But there are some pitfalls as well. TN receives rain during Oct and Nov. Thereafter only next Aug for a brief spell. If water is stopped entering into that area, It will become earth quake pron. It is something like Hair without being oil applied. It will fall right. It is same. KA is not as Hot as TN.

      Bangalore, Mysore, Mandya will start getting rains by Apr.

  13. This is a scholarly article with considerable research effort going into it. The message of sharing that comes out in these tense and sensitive times is much needed.

    1)The immediate step should be to realise that distress must be shared. The tribunal order to release fixed qty of water in a month is not practicle, in an year with short fall in rains as this year. The rain gods r not aware of the fixed monthly schedule. Reducing the water to be shared in proportion to short fall in rains is a good idea.

    2)Changing crop patterns to use less water intensive crops.

    3)Gujarat has shown the way in increasing the water table in even arid regions like Saurashtra, resulting in less dependence on rainfall.

    4)River linking will be a permanent solution. It requires political will.

    5)People need to be educated that complying with SC order is a must in a democracy. The language employed by agitators that "kaveri is ours only", is distressing. "Share and Thrive during Surplus rain years" and "Share and Survive during deficient rainfall years" should be the spirit.

  14. i logged in to twitter after long time just to get the link of this blog. Fantastic article Kiran sir...One stage felt like i am reading pratap sir himself. vey nice explanations, great research and good suggestions at the end..

  15. is another post covering about millets :)

  16. Awesome sir, never seen an article something like this. We are "INDIANS" , these politician fools separating us with the name of air, water, soil, language, states, and the new one "IPL".

  17. You have projected both sides of the issue dispassionately. I saw the Kaveri agitation of 1991 firsthand as I lived in Mysore (1987-92). It is an emotional issue. However it appears to me that the people's representatives of Karnataka were not able to represent their side of the issue properly (or were unable to generate the same decibel levels) as their counterparts in TN did.

    I asked a friend who was working in the Central Water Commission (he is from AP and hence emotionally neutral) about it and the view in the CIC, it appears is that Karnataka (as the upper riparian state) should be less pusillanimous in sharing water with the downstream state.

    The suggestions you have made to solve the issue should be seriously considered by the governments in both the states.

  18. Very informative...Tamilnadu and Karnataka are a rooms in a Building of India.Solve the problems with peaceful way of consideration by both the state governments....Jaisriram!

  19. There is a typographical error in my previous comment. The abbreviation of Central Water Commission was mentioned as CIC.It should be read as CWC.

  20. Nice article. Exactly what i was looking to understand. Thanks!

  21. Appreciate your WellResearched effort to enlighten us on this important & far more sensitve issue respected sir. But would have been better if any of our State Sensational PaidMedia's took the responsibility like you & telecasted a wellresearched programme on River Cauvery rather than promoting a crap foriegn issue with a headline 'SomethingSpecial'or dragging a Hindu swami Nithya's issue.... They need to take the Responsibility now & use the medium for for the welfare of the society which would have enlightened far more people all over karnataka!!! & Also would love to here your opinion on the Biased & Political Ambitious Protests on this sensitve issue !!! ThankYou :) From @CricDude9 (

  22. awesome! I just made a small post on my blog so that i can redirect ppl to your post :D
    kaveri ammange jai! :D

  23. A very good column! Kiran you have shown both sides of the dispute very clearly. I would like to know whether we can all be good state neighbors by simply focusing on drinking water needs when monsoon fails. I see aggressive Tamil lobby always using words like punish Karnataka and so on. So much so, a day will come when Karnataka will simply refuse to release water just as Punjab has done over 40 years or so w.r.t. Rajasthan's water needs. So TN government has to moderate its needs else there will be perpetual enmity on both sides.

  24. All these years I was listening to "one sided stories" from my Ka and Tn colleagues. Here is an article that details out the problem and also looks at various possibilities to solve. High time we bring in BJP at the center and initiate the dream of ABV.
    Also such articles should be published in local newspapers in TN and KA and educate farmers and expose so-called organizations and politicians.

  25. Thanks for the detailed post Kiran sir!
    Few points
    1)The Kaveri tribunal should come up with a clear distress water sharing formula which should be acceptable to both the states.
    2)The farmers in both states should be encouraged to move away from water draining crops like Paddy to others.
    3)Water conservation is the need of the hour at the Kavery catchment areas in Kodagu district. More and more check dams should be built.(K'taka govt is doing a commendable job in this area through the 'Sujala' water conservation scheme)
    4)If viable, drip irrigation system should be implemented.
    5)The river should be considered as a source of drinking water, and first priority should be given to providing drinking water to both states.

  26. Dear Kiran,

    I have often wondered/admired at your statistical prowess. Any detail you reveal is substantiated with this too to its best. And again this time, it remains the same.

    Unfortunately, I am forced to repel on certain points as noted here. Which are as below:

    Kaveri, as you well stated, is not just a river or a water body. It is a lifeline and a member in the family, just beyond anything else, for the farmers whose livelihood depended on its banks. As a fortunate progeny of one such family, even I have a similar bonding and affection to this motherly nature's gift. I hope, my findings and points below are not driven by such emotional affluence, and only by just.

    As the river has seen generations of human existence, through several millenias, all these periods of time have been covered by farmers depending on this holy river for their farm crops. Here, these farmers lived their lives across the banks, but not across the states of KA and TN, which are hardly 50 years by the state formation procedures. Hence, the water from this river is a proprietary associated with the farmer who tills, and thus, shall not be used for urban distribution. Any urban civil supply utility is a pure injustice to the farmer, wherever he resides. And thus, I am NOT saying, "let the Bangaloreans go to hell"; it must be minded that, the population of Bengaluru has a 40% tamil consolidation. If there be no water supply to Bengaluru from Kaveri, these 40% will and shall also be affected. And for their needs, resources from elsewhere has to be considered. Elsewhere, shall be Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) predominantly. In TN, this was mandated and all buildings which are already in place were also required to place RWH systems. Any prohibitors, were fined and evicted from occupancy, till the system was implemented in their premises. This seriously gave great results and the water-table incremented at unexpected levels.

    As far as the Disproportionate Usage by TN is concerned, this part of farm lands have never increased. What was argi lands then, Trichy, Thanjavur, Mayavaram, Kadalur, are the same now. In fact, some of the farm lands have become residential or industrial. But not otherwise. Hence this sounds invalid. Since ages, these districts depended on Kaveri. Be it, they consumed even 75% of the water resources, but they are and were the only ones.

    But unfortunately, Karnataka has started to gallop the water resources for incremented agricultural resources. Adding to that, towards urban water needs. This is totally in betrayal of the farmers of several centuries.

    When TN raises concerns over building new dams, the case is this: The geographies of KA has enough mountainous regions to build new dams. Has enough plateaus to reserve water. But, the case is otherwise in TN. The primary region is a delta. With a sea-facing land mass, the water eventually drips over and cannot be contained. Still, 1000 years ago, there's one reservoir built by the then Chola King, Karikal Chozhan. That is Kollidam. Since my birth, I have never seen this region with water. I am unaware of the supposed capacity of this reservoir. But has always remained empty. The Chozha emperor had a foresight of draughts and ensured water is conserved for agriculture during non-rain fed seasons.

    You must also understand that, when you phrase out, the TN delta region is rain fed as per the monsoon seasons you have stated, these rains only have fed the river to flow and that has only been the resource of irrigation for the farmers.

    If you say, TN is wasting water into Bay of Bengal, you have to suggest better means to defy gravity. Rivers flow into sea as there path is such. As stated earlier, this region is called Kaveri DELTA. And hence any form of conservation would sound to be unviable.

    Continued in next post...

    1. Thanks for taking time to comment.

      Yes, people have lived on Kaveri banks for centuries and millenia. That's why solution number 9 specifically says look into 21st century situation. We can't solve the problem when things are changing rapidly. No one anticipated population of Bengaluru to double since 1991.

      Regarding 40% Tamil "consolidation" in Bengaluru.. For a city of close to 90 lakh people, that's 36 lakh people. The last time I checked using 2001 census, 5.46% of Karnataka state were Tamil speakers. So your number for one city is more than the entire state's Tamil linguistic minorities :)

      Rain Water Harvesting is a good method and as I wrote, it has to be a solid solution. Already started seeing it in Bengaluru.

      Regarding TN irrigated area not increasing, that's not the case. I have seen research, like the one quoted in Wiki now ->
      "Tamil Nadu’s irrigated lands had grown from a pre-Mettur command area of 1,440,000 acres (5,800 km2) to 2,580,000 acres (10,400 km2)"

      Based on 1924 agreement, that increase was illegal. I don't know Karnataka also illegally increased during that period, but from what I have read it didn't see any significant increase.

      Regarding "galloping" water: No sir, Karnataka even today uses less than 37% of Kaveri water, even though it contributes at least 53%. Increasing from 20-25% to 37% during best years (when it rains well) is not "galloping".

      Thanks for info on the delta topography. I am not an expert in talking about how to prevent water going unused to the sea. Maybe someone else can help.

  27. Continued from previous post...

    The solutions pointed out in your article such as Growing less water intensive crops, can be thought of. But still, paddy and sugar cane are the crops since ages. You cannot take a donkey into the warfield. You need a cavalry horse for that. You cannot make the farmer get settled for a donkey. Already TN farmers have started researching on drip irrigation, which is an Israeli method. Last year, a farmer even got a Padma award for his cause into this.

    Karnataka has water resources of Krishna, apart from Kaveri. Unlike Kaveri which is a seasonal river, Krishna is perennial.

    It would be unwise for the social elite to go and advise the farmer of his business. I would seriously doubt if a farmer advises you on your core business, and you would listen to. For that case, I seriously wouldn't.

    Considering these options and making out proper justice to the farmer is what is the need of the hour.

    Thanks for your blog. Thanks if you could read and appraise my feedback.

    1. Regarding paddy and sugar cane being crops since ages, things have to change. 21st century India needs 21st century solutions. As I have demonstrated in the blog, growing paddy, both in Karnataka and TN is the main cause of more water consumption. More than 60% of Kaveri water goes into that crop, per my estimate. Even a 20% reduction of that can save over 100 TMC of water, more than the entire Mettur dam's capacity!

      Karnataka surely has Krishna river, but please open the map and see how far is that river to Bengaluru city. Kaveri is just 100 KM away. Also, Krishna has Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh as stake holders already. Every TMC is fought by states there too.

      But I do agree that Bengaluru should reduce it's dependency on Kaveri. Right now somewhere between 45 to 55% of the city gets Kaveri water to drink. That surely can go down if local lakes are revived. It's already proposed in the blog's solutions.

      Yes, justice for farmers is needed. Justice for all farmers along the Kaveri basin. I saw pictures of over 25000 farmers bitterly fighting police yesterday in Karnataka for their rights. Unless we see innovative solutions, this is a never ending September to January saga year after year.

    2. Dear Kiran, Here's my retribution. A blog for a blog. I am the Hammurabi of 21st century.
      Regret that, I am not convinced in instalment posting of comments. That somehow doesn't appear to be comfortable for me. May be I need more sympathisers to pity on me. :-)

    3. Mukunthan's detailed blog in here ->


      1) When it comes to Mysore and Madras sides, British took Madras side in most if not all agreements since 1800. The only British who sided with Mysore was Colonel Sanky ( a lake exists in Bengaluru for his name).

      2) I can't take sides on which farmer is a victim. Let me skip that. But when it comes to crops, a farmer near Mysore grows 1 crop a year, but Tanjavur grows 3 crops a year. It's up to you to decipher further.

      3) The very "us" versus "them" argument is what is keeping us in this vexed status. There is LESS water than the needs of both states. Need to find solutions.

      4) Regarding "agri rich" soil - technology exists to make any area grow good crops with sufficient water. Even Israel, a desert is showing solutions.

      5) Let's cut sarcasm and other factors. It is a fact that farmers of Karnataka ask daily why "we" are restricted to using less than 37% of Kaveri water, which is only about 60% of what Karnataka contributes to the river. Answer them, not me. That's when a solution may come out.

      6) Simple geographical constraint my friend. Bengaluru is 400 KM away from Krishna river's nearest reservoir (Narayanapur), while is it 100 KM from Kaveri river. Also, it is at 3050 feet above sea level (highest altitude for any metro city in India). Practically, is it easier to pump water to a small mountain like Bengaluru from 100 KM or 400 KM? Power used for that factor? You decide.

      7) If you think the protests in Karnataka, the biggest since year 2000 (Raj Kumar kidnapping by Veerappan) are drama, I don't need to get into them sir. I am not a representative of any state or political party :)

      8) I have personally not supported any bandh for any reason. You can check my tweets on any of the bandh day, be it Karnataka bandh or Bharat bandh.

      Overall Mukunthan, I admire your passion for presenting the case for Kaveri delta farmers from coast of Tamil Nadu. You have some good info. But unfortunately, they are going back to "let us not change the crops, let us not change the water consumption by delta" arguments. I am not sure if we can move forward with that stagnation.

      If someone had written the same arguments for Mandya, Kodagu or Mysuru, I would have said the same too. Mandya grows the largest amount of sugar cane in Karnataka part of Kaveri. My suggestion to them would be the same. Think of alternates.

    4. @Kiran, first of all kudos for putting up a well balanced argument. You have also rebutted @Mukunthan's parochial views highlighting only Tamil farmers. His arguments sound more like a 2nd or 3rd century ones and don't consider the "Ground Realities" as he himself questions in one of his rebuttal. Also in his argument he defends his farmers as not just self consuming but sharing their output with others...But, it is not free, right!? why should they get free water then!? It is economics man, whenever a resource is SHARED, there must be a give and take solution, no one can claim rights due to "hereditary"!.

    5. Dear Kiran and Kitty,
      Thanks for having gone through my inputs and for your feedback as well. Here below my appraisal of your inputs:
      1) As far as the British decision making, it must be noted that, they have always been for the side they were administering. Today, if they restrict Indian visas, that's because, they want their currently administered territory fully secured. Then, the British ruled not TN, not KA. It was Madras Presidency. And against them, Mysore was not a small power. They had equal accords with each other. If otherwise, the British wouldn't have let Mysore exist. So, the Kaveri flew all across the Madras Presidency. And the British have taken enough consideration, irrespective of the linguistic barriers, within their territory, which means, areas not under Mysore Raj, now in Karnataka must have also been taken care of. Then why blame them? There must not be any issues with that.

      2) I very well understand that a Mysore based farmer has less options. I do not deny it. But, as I have stated, a delta has more natural soil enrichment. You defy that law of nature and try to make artificial interference. To make the soil rich in Mysore, you may have to invest in fertilizers. You are travelling towards a chemical factory inside our metabolic system. I do not say there aren't any fertilizers used in Thanjavur, or Mayavararm. But, you may have to invest triple or quadruple of it, to make Mysore equal to that.

      3) The need find solutions is a very blanket statement. The LESS water situation is purely because of usage of farm water for urban needs. I agree, for Bangalore's geographical position, there's no other source possible. But, that cannot excuse the plunder of Kaveri from the 'farmers'. Farmers include both the sides. Assuming that, the extrapolation of Bangalore continues from 9 million to 18 million, I hope and pray it doesn't, then, would you be able to imagine the consequences? Farmers, on both the sides will be betrayed of by the urban dwellers. Won't they be.

      4) I hope, my point 2 includes answer to this too. I very much am in support of technological improvisation. But not at the cost of nature. When there's natural richness at one point, you cannot deny them the opportunity to avail it. For instance, in case there's calcium deposits in a particular district, you very well have to allot that region for Cement industries. If you find iron-ore, then for iron and steel industries. Say, the neighboring state cannot blame the growth of the state with these resources. Here in these cases, assuming that, such a mineral rich state, has very little population and borrows man-power from the neighboring state, such neighbor cannot blame this state for abducting it's human resources. For economics purpose, water, minerals, manpower, time, everything is a resource. We need to take the best of it out for the human consumption, with some eco-consciousness. If you want to compare with Israel, the geo-political circumstances of Israel is different. Very discomforting neighborhood. They cannot even imagine to borrow from Saudi Arabia or Syria. They have to make their ends meet with their limited resources. But, with abundant naturally available resources, if we still need to replicate an Israeli climate, then that would be meaningless. To be precise, kindly let the delta farmer do his crop, peacefully. He has the luck and opportunity for this business at his avail. You may blame him of plundering your resources; but even for imagination, he cannot do any business other than agriculture, say, a bauxite-aluminium or iron-ore or coal excavation. Agriculture is what he is destined to do with.

    6. 5) This question lacks legitimacy. If what is sown is reaped immediately, you will get only seedlings. Not plant, not tree, not the fruit. This is an example of time-bound resourcefulness. Similarly, geography-bound resourcefulness brings the opportunity to the delta farmer. So, what's left for the farmers of Karnataka. And further, if you say the farmer uses only 37%, there's an urban crowd plundering him as well. Why not go and ask them? Why did the city planning and development ignore this requirement?

      6) I am totally unawares of the Bangalorean altitude. Thanks for putting it up in understandable terms for me. But, my simple question is, if you want to take water from a seasonal river for a perennial consumption, is that legitimate? Is that what is called urban development? Is that what is called city planning? What if Bangalore keeps growing? Further read my point 3. You please don't read it as, 'this is your call'. I say, the government we elect needs to plan well. They didn't. The governments in Karnataka took full appropriation of Kaveri. Their sight ended with the state boundary. This is total injustice to the farmer. I can guarantee, the same governments, will not abduct more water even if Bengaluru grows, for the reason, that would cause trouble for the KA farmers. That would eventually end up in vote loss. A similar betrayal by Chandrababu Naidu to AP farmers made him lose his chair; this gentleman concentrated totally on IT and forgot the agriculture as part of his state. But, as they have already done that abduction, the people in trouble now is in the other border, from whom they are totally immunized. They are using their immunity for their self-benefits. No welfare based planning here.

      7) I am sorry Kiran. In an argument of Kaveri water sharing, there's no place for Veerappan or LTTE. TN as equally as KA disowns such outfits. There may be a party or two, who claims defence in these groups but that is not the voice of the people. That is not the voice of the government. A govt voicing for them would become unconstitutional. The DMK was sacked from power in 1989, for that reason. Still if you connect these dots which are out of the plane, to this discussion, that's merely the plaguing of thoughts of a section of linguistic populace against the others. I regret these names have come into your blog. It is not in the blog. It is in the mind, that has reflected here.

      8) I appreciate to know that, you do not support them. I am certainly glad. I, perhaps have been misconstrued, reading a few of your tweets. I could collect two of them as below: These tweets were not so deliberately in support of them; still appears to be of an enthusiasm out of such an event.

    7. And finally, in order to make you understand my point a gist as below:

      1. I am not against techno improvement. This is a must. If you don't improvise you perish. But still, I do not think, to crop anything else than paddy is the improvement or a solution. I cannot eat anything other than paddy as my staple. I hope this is applicable to you too. And to the most of the sections of the south Indian diaspora.
      Instead, drip irrigation proves to be a solution. This has to be properly ventured into. The research appears to have begun already.

      2. The points made by Alex Pandian ( are quite prominent. Afforestation, and emphasis on the effects of quarrying are pretty alarming. Even to be an agriculturist of any smallest level, we need the support of the Govt. This is no simple business. Here, we hope the governments take appropriate action.

      3. Finally, the urban consumption must be regulated and limited. Kaveri is a 'seasonal river' - I reiterate. It's not like Ganga or Godhavari. You cannot and should not depend on this river for urban consumption. Plans for water supply to Bengaluru, and other urban locations have to be drafted out. This may not be an immediate solution. It must be devised to be implemented over the years. Diverting Kaveri for urban consumption was a pure and absolute political move. If otherwise, a proper and analysed solution could have been brought out. But, now that, it is done, we should device and execute the plans for retreat of Kaveri to the farmers.
      In thirukkural, it is said that, "Who ploughing eat their food, they truly live: The rest to others bend subservient, eating what they give." (as translated by G.U. Pope). So, give the respect and accord to the Farmer. Not to the 'side'.

      I haven't attended to Kitty's feedback so far. Excuses. I may be in the century primitive to what you have stated. Am not afraid of that. But, please think of what you ate this morning. Think if the food was any different from what your forefathers ate. When it comes to agriculture, farming, cultivation, this is a trait we are carrying along for ages. You cannot shed that right away and move to a different era. For your take on natural resources, please read my point 4 above. Water is not free of cost. It is also an investment. Even the Farmers have to been considerate in it's usage. I would never deny this. But, what is my hereditary right, cannot be let to be abducted. If you be the grandson of Socrates, you be. Me not. Please assure me, that you won't enjoy your ancestral property. Will you? Then why should that stupid farmer alone?

      I regret that, I am handicapped to come to a point within the text range. I will always take my own limit. Hence, the 3 different instalments. I am myself uncomfortable with the instalment strategy; however gotta live with it for now. Kindly go through the points and let me have your feedback.


    8. @Mukunthan, good to get your feedback. Most of your arguments again support farmers, fair enough to certain extent but ONLY THEM, doesn't make sense my friend. My contention for your "look only rural" view is - it is narrow and one sided, and doesn't provide a strong case for the rapid urbanisation or migration happening now in India from rural areas into cities. We just cannot ignore that fact. Mind you, that's what made our ex-president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam to stress the need for PURA project.
      Regarding your other argument that rice is the staple food for millions in south india, and that you cannot change it - to some extent that is true. But, go and check the rice consumption in recent times not just in cities but also in rural areas - most of them have changed over to chapathis and millet based food since cases of diabetes are on the rise. In fact, its better for the farmers in the delta to learn quickly that growing paddy alone may not be commercially viable and they'll have to improvise or change crop pattern (somewhere in this blog itself there is a pointer to this experiment in Maharashtra). To your point that we are eating the same rice what was eaten during our ancestor times - true partially, but be known that even their type/variety, quality, has changed over years. Same argument applies to farmers in China, Vietnam, Israel and USA too, but they've overcome many odds and found new/better solutions. As someone suggested, it is prudent to sow paddy during water rich times and resort to other crops during water scarce times.

      On your argument about "hereditary right" - yes, nobody can snatch that from you if it is just your property, whether you are descendant of Socrates or otherwise, but I mentioned about the "Shared Scarce Resource" to which you cannot put your "hereditary powers" - it must be shared in the true sense.

      I feel that your arguments stand one sided (or lop-sided?) for the reason that you are blind eye to many ideas or solutions suggested by @Kiran and others for the delta farmers. You've not taken into account the NE monsoon or the cyclonic rains that the delta farmers should harvest in a better way. Instead of "sucking" out drinking water from upper riparian state, they must better manage their available water. They cannot easily force any excess water upstream which will go waste.

      Regarding drinking water vs water for irrigation - this is where the IMMEDIATE NEED comes into picture. I totally disagree with you that this move was political on KA the same argument can we say that designing 3 crops annual cycle was also a political move!? both don't hold water! :) We must remember one thing - for a human being, whether a farmer or not, "drinking water" takes precedence any day over the water used for the 1st, 2nd or 3rd crop, period. That holds good whether you are a Kannadiga, Tamilian, Indian or a non-Indian.

      Sorry for being so long in my reply this time ;), I promise I'll be short next time if at all I choose to reply sooo long!

    9. I read through Mukunthan and Kitty's arguments.

      My query to Mukunthan in particular. There is 725 TMC of water in a good year. There is probably 450 to 600 TMC during bad years, like 2012.

      The demand from KA and TN combined exceeds 1000 TMC. See the blog above for exact numbers.

      How do you propose to solve this massive deficit?

  28. You can't get any better than Kiran KS in this very hot & sensitive issue. Great write up.

    About solutions to the Kaveri issue, any novel ideas debated are only for our self satisfaction as it's very much sure that nothing is going to happen unless political will is made at all levels. From Panchayat to PM level, every one is busy making money for the self and not bothered about optimum utilisation of natural resources. However the solutions being discussed here are really good ones and if any attempt to save water is made would be great. One that suggests low water intensity crops is very apt as the entire world is attempting to do it.

    I remember Pratap Simha writing long back in a different context, he clearly suggested farmers to be self dependent and no politician is going to help you in the crisis. How truly applicable at current times, people are on the streets to fight their battle & few politicians taking advantage too.

    "Kaveri Kutumba" formed in 2003 (members comprising of farmers from both the states) tried to do research on optimum utilization of water. It also helped in reducing violence among farmers from both sides due to water issue. Sadly, as on date, it's a divided family on water demands.

  29. very good attempt by kiran to place facts . One immediate review to be done is to re-evaluate current requirements of both states as the earlier formula is no longer valid due to changed climatic conditions , changed crop patterns. Development of drought resistant varieties is very much possible & i believe is already being done .Also in TN whenever cyclone comes lot of water goes to sea - interlinking of existing rivers , water channels in TN as well as construction of check dams in delta area is needed. Interlinking of rivers inside TN will not have any objections from any of the neighbouring states - interlinking of rivers across India has to be done - a project held up due to foolishness and stupidity of half baked knowledge of Rahul Gandhi. With regards, S.RANGANATHAN ( @rangats in twitter )

    1. Mr. Ranganathan. I am very sorry to say there is no other river that is perenial in TN. All other rivers are rain fed and you could see only Sand. Like Saraswati river that has become totally dried over a period of time, same thing had happened for rivers here too. It could happen for Kaveri too. But I don't want that too happen. Please step out your house and see it by yourself. In Kaveri river in TN you could see only sand. This made me write multiple letters to TN CM and Chief Secretary how to take remedial steps. I don't just blog. I also try to take some steps from side.

      Unlike Kiran's, Mugunathan's or Kity's your comments are not good in nature.

  30. Translation of Enguru blog series on Kaveri dispute:

    Part 1:
    Part 2:
    Part 3:
    Part 4 will come tomorrow

    1. From a pro Karnataka point of view these blogs are very informative, particularly the 3rd part.

      I wish someone posts a pro Tamil Nadu views with such facts or counters them.

      Share the 4th part when ready.

  31. Sand mining in river beds across the dry rivers is rampant. The state governments don't check this because of the money it gets for their political parties. If this is not addressed, the impact it will have on river water utility will be immense and it cannot be quantified too.

  32. Very well written article Kiran.

    Some points to ponder.

    1) When the rains are normal (or good) during SW monsoon (which is the case in most years) - there is no problem faced by both states. It is only during failed season/year, the issue becomes volatile. One of the reasons for reduced rains is not just climate change (which is also true), but also the tree cover across all regions. Our forefathers planted such long lasting / rain bringing(?) trees in Coorg and other catchment areas so that we had good rains for several years in previous century. Now those trees are old or cut rampantly by mafia leading to less rain in Coorg/Kerala/Cauvery catchment areas. We need to afforestation in a big way in Coorg and surrounding districts with such trees which will last more years and also effect rains

    2) similar to loss of tree cover, many hills are quarrieds in Dharmapuri/Krishnagiri/Kollegal/Mysore belt leaving the the windward side rains becoming less during SW monsoon. We just can't build hills/mountains - no one realises this. Due to this what is happening is Bangalore/Mysore gets less rains during SW season. In past during NE monsoon, BLR/MYS does not get rains. But if you see in past few years, whenever there is a low pressure bay in BayofBengal - BLR/MYS gets rain (though small) whenever Chennai gets rain. This is reverse happening. Not sure how this rain can be captured (as dams are not there in KA or TN to capture this)

    3) why the Karnataka officials (in Irrigation/Law depts) or ministers are not working as a team to create good 'case' pushing the CRA/CMC / SC in making them understand realities? Why there is no concerted effort proactively. Most people in KA feel disillusioned with this irrespective of Cong or BJP in power in state. (also possible that many of these ministers/officials are not from Cauvery region hence not having the pain)

    4)Cauvery region farmers (Cauvery family) should meet monthly once in each other's region to sort out than allowing politicians/CMs to spoil the party.


    1. Please read a comment earlier (Kiran B?) which talks of a 2003 attempt to form farmers' talking point across both states. Surely that need reviving.

  33. A commendable effort by Kiran indeed. One thing to be kept in mind foremost is that both parties to the dispute should try to demonstrate the divine call 'Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu'.With this conviction experts in the field should get cracking in identifying and implementing workable solutions including the potential method of optimal utilisation of the waters thatis finding its bway into Bay Of Bengal.

  34. An extensively researched and informative article!! The solution for this has to be a permanent one as it is not a good sign when people of two states fight with each other. I dread for the day when this will lead to more disturbances as water is the most important resource. Hopefully good sense will prevail on the UPA government and they fulfil the dream project of Atalji by completing the inter-linking of rivers

  35. A well analyzed and researched article. Live and let live.

  36. What seems to me like the Best details over the issue, is what I just finished reading now. The key issues that have grown as a cancer in the political and social sector is yet to be recognized. Was it the negligence by Govt, lack of details to SC or lack of support by Karnataka people. Got to hear from near and dear ones that yesterdays Bangalore bandh was very successful. The success should be reflecting in one mediated solution that will stop the suicides of our farmers and peace specifically in Mandya.
    Shall come back for more analysis or disc..

  37. Wonderful & extensive article.. Kaveri as any other issue has always been kept alive due the returns it gives politicians both in Karnataka & TN, else how does fringe elements like Ramdoss, VCK , & KRV survive.. There must be a lasting solution to the problem, It cant please all, but a neutral committee with no interest in both sides, must be set up & a final lasting solution must be found.

  38. A very balanced post. it s very reassuring that their are still balanced thinkers. So ,thank you,KiranJi.
    About water flowing out into the sea,Desertification of the Delta[it is happening,-this is happening ,but still in the reversible manner,not complete as the Indus basin region viz. Thar]If their isn't sufficient outflow of fresh water into the sea,the sea water enters the region[subterranian-ly] making water brackish & unfit for drinking.This fear is there all along the coast but especially in population/agriculture intensive places as Madras or Delta region of Cauvery. my native place is Mayuram/Mayiladuthurai[in Tamil].I have noticed over the period of years not only water turning brackish[due to incursion of sea water into the water table],but also the water table sinking lower & lower. While farmers /others depended on the surface water for their use earlier, in recent years they've been digging borewells,deeper & deeper for drinking & irrigation.So much so,that ONGC has even found oil near Semmangudi,they were acquiring properties some years back,but we don't hear much about it in Public domain. This in spite of the numerous tanks[man-made lakes/ponds]that exist in the erstwhile Tanjore Delta[now it is divided into three separate disticts].
    The water table that was just a few feet below ground has now become much deeper. I know since the great drought of the late eighties/early nineties;[it was just after that the first JJ govt. made rainwater-harvesting mandatory].TMadras really suffered.leave alone neighbouring states,it was so with neighbouring houses.We have a well in our backyard. Behind us The house had become a block of apartments just then.Due to the drought,they put up a Borewell ,just behind our well,though in their compound. Immediately,we noticed a drastic fall in our water table,which was healthy only because,my father had the foresight to do rainwater harvesting ,even before it was even thought about publicly.Then we had to sink another borewell much farther away!
    So:1)Rainwater harvesting is definitely something everyone should do.
    Lakes & tanks should be cleaned & desilted regularly[which,BTW,in T is getting done as a by product of the renovations/Kumbhaabhishekams for the adjoining temples.
    2) don't begrudge the sea of a little fresh water;that is what keeps the Delta still fertile! People comment so easily that Madras water is salty;why it is so,is something very few give thought to.It is the same with the drinking water in the Delta region;and all along the TN coast.

  39. A must read for all the parties involved. Very well researched and fair article. Maybe you should send a printout to Jayalalitha and Shettar.

    I live in Mysore and already Kaveri water in just not sufficient for drinking purpose. Some creative solutions are desparately needed.

    1. That's a tragedy. If you live in Mysuru, right next to Kaveri river, and face drinking water problem, that's a mega tragedy :(

  40. Well researched post with full of facts and figures. Some points one need to understand -

    1. The drinking water must have highest priority - We need to go beyond using river water for drinking. Karnataka has good rainfall, the water needs to be stored, harvested.

    2. The cropping pattern in India is very complex. I can quote example of western Maharasthra. The soil isn't at all good for cash crops like Sugarcane or horticulture. But water availability and good returns disturbs entire cropping pattern, and farmers shifted towards these crops. One need to apply Agro-climatic approach in deciding cropping pattern.
    Same can be partially true for Kaveri region in both TN and KN.

    3. There is integrated solution to this issue. One must not think only about Kaveri to decide the issue. There are other rivers involved. Linking, diverting surplus to deficit region must be worked out.

    4. The issue must be kept separate from politics. Its about life of people from Karnataka and Tamilnadu and more than anything about Citizens of Bharat.

    1. Agreed on the Maharashtra part and lessons to be learnt down south. Thanks.

  41. Kiran,

    it's a fact that for millennia farmers downstream have depended on Cauveri for farming. Urbanites have less rights over the water than the farmer. Because the govts instead of relying on river water for drinking,should have made proper arrangements so that the farmers' requirements in all of the concerned states have been satisfied first. Because of the short sightedness of the govt, u want the farmers downstream to suffer? Remember that cultivating crops and changing dietary habits followed for millennia can't be changed on the whims & fancies of the urbanites.already south Indians got a bad name that they are consuming more wheat & hence prices of wheat has risen. You want them to give up on rice as well? Nice try. The only solution, is for farmers on either side to talk to each other,leaving out politicians on either side.if needed they shud take the help of whoever is currently representing the Mysore king and tank re king who know one or two about dharma.

    1. I don't know if that argument of urban people having less rights over rural people is going to stick.

      Even if it does, I doubt even 15% of the water in Kaveri is used by urban people. Maybe more like 10% at the best, using my info.

    2. Of course it won't stick, that's bcoz people can't see beyond their own well being. That's why people who are not dependent on farming have no say in how a farmer should go about his job. Exactly why others can't say to TN farmers, change ur cultivation model. Like I pointed out its not just for millenia these ppl have been doing this, its a way of life. Its intellectual property of these farmers. You want them to abandon it.All for what?

    3. Kiran,

      You've mentioned that in Mandya too farmers have started growing water intensive crops. What happened to induce this change? What were they doing before they started doing this? That can explain partly why Karnataka needs more water now.

      You mentioned noone foresaw that B'lore popln increase. So again I ask, why should TN farmers suffer now for the short sightedness of Karanatak politicians?
      So tomorrow it can be the case that the farmers in Karnataka will oppose their urbanites of utilizing water for drinking purposes. What to do then?
      The basic problem is urbanisation & globalisation policies are destroying the lifeline of Hindu civilization, the villages.this kind of perspective is to be kept in mind, the farmers can discuss it & resolve it.

      This is the only way out.

  42. Violence, bandhs are not the answer. If karnataka govt gives in, every chance that tn farmers will do the same. So ppl instead of flaming the issue saying no drinking water in this or that place, should allow the farmers to sort it out.

  43. Excellent Article Boss

    You have pointed out that a lot have changed and so we need to change

    For example

    1. Cultivation in Mandya has increased
    Your Solution
    TN has to change the cultivation

    I can offer you a better solution

    TN should stop agriculture
    There will be no problem at all

  44. Compared to 20th century

    Bangalore has grown
    So it needs water

    We need 21st century solutions

    Solution : People in Tiruchy, Karur etc should immediately vacate these places
    That way there is no need for water in TN and Karnataka can use all water for themselves

    Great Ideas Sirji !!

  45. //
    If you have a workable solution to Kaveri issue, do think and write as a comment in my blog. Let people read & debate.

    your solution is workable. Mandya cultivation will grow. So TN cultivation has to shrink. Pretty workable

  46. what i understood from your article since people in mandya have started cultivation, delta district farmers have to change their crops. :-) :-) excellent boss

  47. You say 19th century agreement needs to be changed . . what change do you need

    Can you specify

    Is that TN has to gradually give more and more share to Karnataka till it becomes 100 - 0

  48. which state has increased area under cultivation . . can you give details for it

    1. Do me a favour. Just find out what was the irrigated area in Karnataka (Mysore) in 1924 and what it is today.

      Find out the same for Tamil Nadu (part of Madras presidency that is now TN) in 1924 and what it is now.

      Then we can talk further.

    2. Kiran,

      The freaking problem is Karnataka uses water of Kaveri not just for irrigation, but also for urban uses which includes not just drinking but also sanitation. Just because a large city the size of Bangalore does not manage its water well, does not mean you kill of farming in the delta areas. Just remember every flush of your toilet your flushing away livelihood of an Indian farmer. I don't think Karnataka will even dare to publish how much of this water is being used for irrigation and how much is being routed to Bangalore or Mysore for urban utilization. Even if Karnataka's total area under irrigation has not increased, your cities have been guzzling gazillion gallons of water straight out of the share that could be the lifeblood of delta farmers. Kudos, and what's the solution, don't farm rice. So where will we get Rice for our staple requirements? from Italy and Mexico? Wonderful, that's what we call development,eh.

    3. Switch from eating Rice to either Ragi or Sajje. One can eat only what nature provides. Not something that nature finds it tough to provide.

  49. Hi Kiran,

    Interesting take on the problem. I completely accept almost all of what you have written. In particular points 8 and 9 deserve commendation.

    However, I do not agree to one of the points made. It is about changing from Rice as a crop for cultivation. Several reasons for the disagreement, least of them is the economic importance of the crop. Rice is one of the major cash crops and plays an important role in the prosperity of the Cauvery river delta region. Furthermore, rice also happens to be the major staple cereal in southern India.

    Finally, I think a modification of what you suggested might be interesting. For instance, farmers in Kaveri delta region can cultivate the traditional cultivars (greedy varieties) during good (rainy) years, and switch to less greedy cultivars for dry years such as this.

    It is heartening to see some logical thinking in these times.


    1. Great suggestion Sivaram on the "greedy" years versus "dry" years.

      But rice cultivation has to be reconsidered. My best guess is that over 60% of the Kaveri water that is used (I am excluding water going into sea unused), is for paddy and sugar cane cultivation. Even if 25% of that 60% is saved, in both states, that is 100 TMC of water! The fight this month is for 8 to 20 TMC, so you can imagine how big of a deal it would be to save 100 TMC.

      a) Less water consuming Paddy variety - See the blog above for an interesting link that consumes 50% less water.

      b) One year paddy, next year a low water consuming crop.

      c) Drip irrigation.

      d) Sea water desalination (only applicable to TN)

      More options should be there. Note that Rajasthan, a dry state, even with water supply from Punjab, does not grow much paddy. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka (excluding coast/Malenadu area) are pretty dry. Learn from Rajasthan. Before someone jumps in saying North Indians eat more wheat, note that Punjab grows more rice than Karnataka and Tamil Nadu put together!

      It's all about evolving with time. I am not saying it is easy at all.

  50. Good and unbiased articles by Kiran on Jeevanadhi Kaveri...

  51. Please read , sign and share the petition here.

    Join the facebook here to add to petition and knowing water rights and human rights violation.

    1. Serious Violation of Human Rights is happening in Kaveri Basin. Please extend your support by signing petition.

    2. Manu, Please be considerate. Zero sharing is not fair even in times of drought. When there is plenty of rain, nobody complains. Infact lot of water goes waste in normal years. It is only the drought period that needs to be handled carefully and maturedly.

    3. Manu and Arun,
      I have quoted a UN proclamation in the blog itself regarding drinking water. Yes, taking water away from drinking water is a human rights violation.

      However, most water in Karnataka now being fought is for farming. I don't know how much exactly, but my guess is 70% farming and 30% drinking. Human Rights case stands solidly for that 30%, but not sure about the 70%. Tamil Nadu farmers also will present their case of farming equally vociferously.

    4. Don't look unto UN for solution, nobody has a right to anything.only duties towards each other.

  52. Understanding the Kaveri River water sharing dispute

    Part 1:
    Part 2:
    Part 3:
    Part 4:

    1. Dear Vasant,
      Based on part 4 listed above, if the role of the court in a union-structure India is NOT to interfere with inter-state water sharing, why is that not drilled by Karnataka?

      To me it sounds like an obvious legal point that should have been pushed over the past 21 years of serious post-tribunal era.

      - K

  53. I have seen a lot of hot arguments from pro-Karnataka and pro-Tamil Nadu sides over the past 24 hours. Will answer them as time permits. Readers can answer directly too (in a non-personal and civil way) as deemed necessary. I will not delete any comment, unless it is crossing personal attack or vulgarity limits.

    An important point to keep in mind for those who are not happy that Bengaluru (and Mysuru, Mandya etc.) get Kaveri water for drinking purposes. Primarily this is Bengaluru in focus as many have tweeted and commented that water to Bengaluru at the cost of Kaveri delta farmers in Tamil Nadu is not the right thing.

    Note that Chennai city gets Krishna river water for drinking water purpose via Telugu Ganga project. This water is equally given by Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh farmers per sharing formula. Krishna is at least 400 KM from the nearest point to Chennai and has never in the history ever been supplied to Chennai for any purpose. Still farmers of Sangli area in Maharashtra (700 KM away), Bagalakote/Raichur area of Karnataka (500 KM away) and Kurnool/Mahabbubnagar of Andhra Pradesh are giving their share of irrigation water to Chennai for drinking water purpose.

    Will you now use the same arguments for Krishna water being supplied for drinking to a metro city, "snatching it" from farmers, as you are using for Kaveri? Just like how Kaveri delta farmers have used river water for centuries, Krishna delta farmers have used their river water for centuries.

    Something to ponder..

    1. Yes, Krishna water is brought from a long distance. But the project is also used for irrigation in AP. It is a give and take policy - Chennai will get some drinking water and AP gets better irrigation with the help of TN's cost sharing.
      I do not support the argument of not using water for urban purpose. We need water for all purpose, drinking or irrigation. The real issue is how do we handle a loss scenario.

  54. Totally agree that water for Chennai is from Krishna,and farmers are sacrificing for urbanites. But will not there be a point when even that will be questioned, when Chennai population increases? Nother issue to note is Karnatak is increasing it's farm usage + urban usage just because it doesn't have other sources thus depriving the traditional region of water and their livelihood. This is what is being questioned. Like I said in another post, why did Mandya start the practice of growing water intensive crops? Was it a recent phenomenon or was it an age old practice?these r to be resolved by farmers themselves, involvng all the riparian states with a King to mediate. No need to let politicians into this. if Hindus on either side r to remain immune to vote banks,they have to look for alternate ppl to lead them out of this mess.

    1. @PP, you are representing the case of TN delta farmers well but ignoring the issues faced by farmers in Mandya. Agreed, that Mandya farmers entered late into the game but they too have every right to their share albeit in a catch up mode with their TN brothers. The contention mainly is sharing of water during distress period, and as @Arun Anbalagan has mentioned, that needs to be sorted out amicably. Think about the scenario where TN gets some water during NE monsoon while KA catchment area doesn't get any at all. The fact is, water for drinking is the "immediate need" than it is for irrigation.

      It is worthwhile to consider sea water for agriculture as the below link provides some info on that:

      There is a reference to Indians' knowledge in this field as well in the article - "The Indians (on the Indian sub-continent) utilize, and have utilized, existing plant stocks/species which were naturally adapted to brackish/salt water."

    2. TN will get NE monsoon but the problem is, the paddy crops had to be grown up when NE monsoon starts. If they sow it late, young crop cannot withstand the rain fury and will be washed away. So controlled irrigated water is best suited in the initial days. Timing is equally important as sharing water!

    3. @Kitty Mysore

      You have to understand that our society orginally was built on duties not rights and more or less continued to this day in the rural areas. When you say Mandya farmers have every right to their share because they want to catch up with delta farmers, you are ignoring that its going to affect delta farmers invariably.Now if it was a duty based society, Mandya farmers would have continued to do what they were doing and delta farmers what they were supposed to do, instead of trying to one up each other. If there was any change that either side wanted to effect, they would have very well discussed it beforehand through impartial mediators.
      Using sea water for agriculture,not sure how it will affect the soil for years to come. & Some of them looks to be GM crops.Also all these technologies forces the farmer to buy patented methods may be even from outside India. I need not elaborate on the dangers of that.

      Only way out,as I've pointed many times, farmers on both sides have to give up their "ego" & "rights" and start discussion based on each other "duties". Have impartial mediators if needed.

  55. We do not have this problem every year, it is only when the rains fail. Long term solutions are welcome, but for the immediate issue, we need to have a "loss sharing" mindset to avoid conflict. Both parties involved should accept a percentage of loss and should not attempt to pass on the entire loss to others.

  56. Hi Kiran.,
    Pretty good effort and the results are evident in the number of comments. I particularly agree with this point of yours:

    "If the rains are down by 30%, both states should take a hit of 30% water for that month or season. Be good neighbours during tougher times."

    It only sounds perfectly logical. I have a (dumb) question, though:

    Why is that the CRA head (read PM) and the SC not seeing this? Somehow am not able to convince myself that PM is partisan,given TN doesn't have a "favorable" center. And why wouldn't the SC not agree to this rather perfectly logical argument? Is it that KA never put it forward or was it shot down? I'd greatly regret if it was the latter.

    It'd be bad on TN's part if they ask for their "pound of flesh" irrespective of the quantum of rains in the catchment areas.

    It'd be bad on KA's part if they go for "letting the spare instead of the share" to get into TN.

    I am still unclear on the states' stances on these points. Looking forward to getting some information.


    1. I think the PM has seen some of this. But it was fairly silly to first decide on water release, and then send "observers" from CMC for an eye wash to the large number of protestors. Manmohan Singh has once again shown that he is a leader incapable of taking any sound decisions, and worse, followup. He has gained wrath from both states now.

  57. Kiran,

    One other point that you've missed out and others can chip in too, is what were the traditional ways of sharing before British disturbed the apple cart.
    If it shows that Mandya/KA had traditionally used Kaveri for reasons other than what its being used today,then that's where the heartburn of TN farmers lies. No use haggling over British era agreements, we have to always to look to the past 4 solutions.

    1. Dear PP,
      How far back will you go in the history?

      Before British took over Madras, today's Chennai, it was a part of Vijayanagar empire I believe (correct me if needed).

      Before British took over Coimbatore area, it was a part of Tipu Sultan's rule from Mysore. (Again, correct me if this is inaccurate).

      The capitals of both these kingdoms were in today's Karnataka. So the policies would have been very different compared to how they turned out when British took over most of south India, except Hyderabad, Mysore, Travancore and Coorg.

      When British left, things did not go back to exactly how it was during pre-British era. Right? Why rewind the clock to see ifs and buts that are not practical today.

      - K

    2. Kiran,

      if we can't understand the past, how do you expect to solve the problems now? It should also include why KA farmers have changed their patterns to grow 3 crops, just like delta crops. Why are they changing their model now? There have times when both the delta & KA area where part of diff empires, but did any of those old kings try to tell the-other how to conduct it's farmers? That's what we r doing now.

    3. As long as we talk abt rights and keep holding to our own position, this problem can not be solved. Go back to duties. Only way to resolve this.

  58. One week after publishing this blog, I am truly thankful to all the 5000+ views, 94 comments including my answers, 215 FB likes and 100s of tweets/shared/emails and even phone calls.

    About 40% of the responses were in the direction of solutions proposed here. But the rest are either suspecting me (mostly as a softer pro-Karnataka approach), abusing me (happened a lot on Twitter) or holding on to the established pro-Karnataka or pro-Tamil Nadu positions. I can't really help with that 60% as a generation of people have grown up in distrust of each other. It will take time to open up.

    What has happened since writing this?

    Karnataka stopped Kaveri water after 10 days of continuous water flow, but before the end date prescribed by the PM (CRA). Karnataka's argument was that dams and canals are drying and in this distress there is no more water release possible. CM Shettar and PM Manmohan communication channel is dead. Lots of protests and noises still around. Shettar's argument is that most of what PM asked for 15 days (approx) is already covered as some days more than 9000 cusecs of water did flow. TN should not wait for rain. Since SC was informed of this stoppage showing data, this is not a contempt of court.

    Tamil Nadu obviously is not happy with the stoppage after 10 days. They want water to flow all the way till PM's direction (either Oct 12th of 15th, I don't recall properly). CM Jayalalithaa's lawyer even went to the extent of asking court to get army deployed around Karnataka dam to ensure water flows to TN. Contempt of Court argument talked and filed. As of now, nothing has happened, except that court is reviewing the revised CMC direction of 8.5 TMC to be released by Karnataka between October 11th and October 31st. My personal guess is that even though Karnataka refused to that, that 8.5 TMC is a small amount, and will flow anyway over 3 weeks. Not all water can be held by the upper riparian state, no matter how much it tries. There are also tit-for-tat street protests in TN now. Vaiko and MDMK tried to picket & block power supply to Karnataka. I am sure they are mirror images of Narayana Gowda and KRV when it comes to rhetoric & action. Hope Karnataka CM now doesn't ask for army to be deployed around power stations in TN disrupting national grid. Also, unlike Kaveri, power supply is a 2 way street between KA and TN. Kaiga power plant in KA supplies nearly 1/3rd of its generated power to TN (Kaiga is the 3rd largest nuke plant in India). Sincerely believe tit-for-tat disruptions don't escalate.

    Two things that I am curious beyond all these political and legal muscle flexing.

    1) How much water is there in Mettur dam, other smaller dams and canals of TN as of 12th October? Will that serve at least 30 to 60 days of (2nd and 3rd) crops in the delta? Mettur had 71 feet level (about 60% full) one week back, which is a lot of TMC of water.

    2) How is the NE monsoon rain situation in TN Kaveri delta? This is almost negligible historically in the Kaveri catchment area of Karnataka. Will it rain enough to supply 50 to 100 TMC of water over 2-3 months?

    Let me know if you know the details for these two.

    - Kiran

  59. 1) The rainfall statistic claimed by Tamil Nadu is bogus(seems to be an average for the whole of Karnataka). Leaving aside Kodagu district and the forests of Male Mahadeshwara and Hogenekkal, the districts of Mandya,Mysore and Chamarajanagar receive around 70-80 cm/year of rainfall. In Tamil Nadu the rainfall varies from 80cm/year in Erode district to 100cm/year in the coastal districts. So the Kaveri districts in both the states receive more or less the same amount of rainfall considering that Tamil Nadu has a hotter climate and has more trans-evaporation.
    2) The basin area calculation or the source of water argument isn't useful since states can always misuse the rule. In Punjab the Indus river originates mainly from Pakistan in POK but Jhelum,Chenab originate in India yet India is obliged to give the full water of Jhelum and Chenab to Pakistan while retaining Ravi and Sutlej. This is because Jhelum and Chenab mainly flow through Pakistani Punjab.
    The length of the river must be the sole criterion and not basin area(which can be manipulated) or the source of water(which is also not possible to calculate accurately and is also an unfair method to decide water splitting)
    Using this Rule and excluding the length of the river in the forests of Kodagu and Male Mahadeshwara/Hogenekkal, the length of the river from Kushalnagar to Kollegal is around 180 km. One also has to keep in mind that Karnataka has 2 tributaries Kabini and Hemavathi and 2 more important dams Kabini and Gorur Hemavathi. The length of the river in Tamil Nadu from Mettur to Chidambaram is around 300 kms. Since the length of the river in Tamil Nadu is significantly longer than Karnataka a 60%-40% sharing of water with 60% in favour of Tamil Nadu and 40% for Karnataka seems to be a fair sharing ratio.
    3) If the monsoon rains fail, more water must be awarded to Tamil Nadu during the South West Monsoon (Jul-Sep) and more water to Karnataka during north east monsoon (Oct-Dec). During the rest of the months the 60-40 ratio should be maintained. The exact ratio in case of rain failure between jun-dec must be decided by a panel of experts giving rational arguments and not any politicians or film stars.
    3)South Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are not conducive for growing rice. Rice requires at least 150cm/year of rainfall to be grown without irrigation. Rice can be grown naturally only in Kerala and coastal Karnataka. The crops traditional to south Karnataka,south Andhra and Tamil Nadu have been Ragi and Bajra(called Sajje and Kambu in kannada and tamil). Ragi requires around 70-90cm/year of rainfall whereas bajra requires just around 50 cm/year of rainfall. So while ragi requires a little irrigation bajra requires no irrigation and can be grown naturally as a drought resistant crop.
    4) Farmers in south Karnataka still grow Ragi as their main crop but Tamil Nadu has completely abandoned Ragi and Bajra in favour of rice. Ragi and Bajra have disappeared from Tamil Nadu whereas only Bajra has disappeared from Karnataka.

    1) Convert many of the rice fields in Tamil nadu to Ragi and Bajra. Restrict the growing of sugarcane in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Kaveri cannot support Rice and Sugarcane grown in huge quantities. Make the people in big cities like Bangalore and even the people of tamil nadu to switch from a predominantly rice based diet to a ragi based or bajra based diet through campaigning and information dissimination. This will also give the incentive to the farmers to grow the millets instead of rice and will help the economy and environemnt at the same time.
    2)Never allow politicians either from the centre or from the states decide on water sharing. The water sharing has to be decided on transparency and scientific data.
    In short stop eating rice as the staple food and switch to millets like Ragi, Jowar and Bajra. The main problem in this case isn't the politicians or the farmers of either of the states. It is people like YOU AND ME.

  60. excellent, accolades to kiran. nice tailpiece by manu. great work by both.

    1. Thanks. This Basin area and source of water argument is baseless. Only the length of the river argument is valid.

      KRS water must be split 60-40 with 60% going to Tamil Nadu. Waters of Gorur dam and Kabini Dam must be fully used by Karnataka and none given to TN. And TN must be asked to change a majority of its cropping by next year itself to Ragi and Sajje. No one seems to talk of cropping patterns which is the main cause of this problem but they talk of racism bullshit which is kannadigas vs kongas.

  61. nice great artical supreme court must reed this

  62. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  63. 1) First of all I am happy to see a blog which does not take a stand based on language. I see increasing chauvinism atleast on internet towards one's mother tongue. There is no superior or inferior language and knowing more languages is better. It is just a way to communicate(other than learn , think etc which we do in English most of the times nowadays). Politicians use it to divide people and I can see that even educated people are totally biased (see comments in news sites :)) This is a problem between two administrative states, thats all. Kudos for a good article !

    2) As far as I understand both sides exaggerate the divide to prove that they are right. Let us forget the historic agreement for time being. Bringing it up only gives reasons for people to justify their side. The historic agreement does not make any sense during times of distress. First of all during times of distress there should be a formula (40-60,60-40 or 50-50).So if there is 1 TMC water only, then it should be divided as 0.5 and 0.5 (based on 50-50 formula for example). Rather what we see is one side saying we wont give any unless our need is satisfied and other side wanting 50 TMC when there is only 35 TMC

    3) Terribly disappointed that when the CMs met they did not try to solve the problem long term.Whoever fault it was, it shows that they do not want to solve the problem. Issue is that if they compromise they are projected as weak. The political rhetoric is appalling on both sides.

    4) See this article:

    So I am sure both sides must be offering solutions for a long time. Are farmers following them or are governments serious in adapting the farmers changing water availability?

    5) If there is excess rainfall next year everyone will forget about this issue. Instead farmers should have dialogues every year to learn from each other on how to save water, crops etc and understand both sides. More effort should go into saving excess water during these seasons. If check dams can be built only in Karnataka, both states can invest equally and share the resource equally during distress taking into account rainfall etc.

    6) I am sure both states are using Cauvery water for drinking purposes as well. Also there should be an understanding of how the water sharing is done within each state for drinking and irrigation purposes in times of distress. I am not going to argue whether drinking water is more important or irrigation is more important. Only way we can contribute is by wasting less, using water efficiently in towns, cities.At least future developments and use of drinking water should be done realistically.

    There are lots of misunderstandings and deliberate attempts to misguide people on both sides which has led to bitterness.This link is one of the best articles I have read about the dispute except it does not clarify the misinformation in Tamil Nadu regarding Karnataka:

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  65. some information is comfortable

  66. Nice article

    But i would like to add few more details to this.

    When there is heavy Rain which like in 2013 where karnataka left more water to TN with out any issues , But TN left most of the water to SEA with out proper utilization of extra water collected in karnataka mansoon and TN mansoon which starts in Dec also personally travelled in cavery belt in both Karnataka and TN to see the utilization of water. Noticed

    water canel development is taken care in some parts of K'taka. TN also should focus on canel development for proper utilization of water.

    in 2013 Karnataka left 220tmc of water to standing crops , TN still started saying extra water is not utilized and started requesting 30+ tmc of water in december. if that is the case why they are not allowing karnataka to build new check dam at "MEKE DATU"?. "live or lets allow to live"

    Also in 2013 JAN to JUNE karntaka faced lot of water problem due to mansoon failure. TN every time started requesting to more water like 50TMC , 30TMC etc even though every one know there is no water in all cavery basin water dams and took like prestige issue and started pampering karntaka formers. Due to this karntaka left few TMC of water due to this even " KARNATAKA FORMERS paddy/suger cane" got effected also with that few TMC water which they got is also "not helped TN formers also".

    At last both sides formers got effected and hormony b/w both the states went out of order.

    " WHY BOTH STATE GOVT allow both state FORMERS to conduct meeting monthly in case of mansoon failure/success and let them decide how irregation need to be done. formers also be safe in both side of states.

    Also when ever polatical people are involved issue is prolonged and there is no solution.

    when there is no water in karnataka dams TN should understand. Night mare days which we saw people of mandya formers burnts there paddy fields due to lack of water and committed suicide.

  67. I am a native of Bengaluru who drank Kaveri water all along my life but today I live in a remote place called Gubbalala where we(our apartment complex) had initially paid 2.61lakhs towards Bescom and BWSSB connections some 7years back but till today we are going bald with borewell water. But recently the local Congress MP is demanding 15lakhs for ensure supply of cauvery water for which we have already paid, this he says is towards extending additional pipelines towards the Gubbalala village and is glorifying the bribe as our social responsibility for which most of our ignorant neighbors have got ready to sustain, in this scenario what should I do?
    Although your post is about Kaveri my point is about the difficulty in getting access to our own Kaveri in Bengaluru city

  68. On one hand the Congis harass us because it is a BJP crowd here on the other hand a BJP MLA is sitting adjacent to us who is arm twisting us for an access road from inside our complex to his private property and is incidental in stopping of kaveri water connection to our complex along with the builder, the borewell guy another JDS strongman is also involved in stopping kaveri water connections to the Gubbalala village as it will sabotage his business, I am writing to you as I have seen your talks on TV a couple of times and thought I would put across our woes here as to atleast understand where to start from?

  69. Kaveri is one of the best utilized river in India. Almost 95% of the water get utilized. Major portion of the water goes to irrigation (85% approx.) and some extent for drinking water purposes (15%). Karnataka has major contribution in utilizing the water for drinking purposes.Mandya and Mysore utilizes most of the water in Karnataka. Similarly Tanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam and Erode districts of Tamil Nadu utilizes the maximum water for irrigation in Tamil Nadu. This is an old problem of upper and lower riparian states squabbling over rights and there are no RIGHT/WRONG answers but only points of view.India has given Indus waters to Pakistan during the most intense stand-offs and Ganga/Brahmaputra water to East Pakistan (later Bangladesh). Israel and Jordon share a river called “Jordon river” and Nile is shared by several nations as is the Danube in Europe.
    If nations, that too sworn enemies can solve these problems these two states in India which share a lot of things can surely solve it if they want to solve it.

  70. This blog written very well in 2012 is still relevant and will revisited by seekers of info in future also when we get into distress!!

  71. Thanks i like your blog very much , i come back most days to find new posts like this!Good effort.I learnt it.<a href=">waste recycling services Tamil Nadu</a>.

  72. The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its order on a batch of cross petitions filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry challenging the 2007 Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal award. This comes after 10 years of hearing.A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, reserved its order and asked the parties to submit written submissions on various aspects of the issue that had emerged during the course of the hearing.

  73. The solution for the Cauvery water dispute:
    Here is a suggestion to keep all the Cauvery water to ourselves, and yet give enough water to Tamil Nadu.
    Every time there is a shortage of rainfall the “Cauvery issue” crops up and if there are rains next year, it is forgotten. If there is a political will, there are many viable solutions to this problem.
    If we travel from Kerala to Goa along the coast of Karnataka, well, it’s a nice drive and I have enjoyed it often. Every ten kilometers, we will find a river or large stream of fresh drinking water flowing into the sea. While letting these fresh water rivers like “NETHRAVATI” and “SHARAVATHI” and many more into the sea, we also fight in the supreme court of India for this Cauvery water spending crores of Rupees down the drain.
    Imagine the reverse situation,
    1. If Cauvery was flowing from Tamil Nadu to Karnataka,
    2. If Tamil Nadu had several other rivers like we have and had let them in to the sea,
    3. And if Tamil Nadu had dammed Cauvery at Mettur,
    I, as a layman could go to the Supreme Court and get the gates opened. No wonder even senior advocate F.S. Nariman is not able to win our case.
    Here is an engineer’s solution to make both sides happy instead of fighting in the courts.
    In Shimoga district there is a dam called ‘Linganamakki’, with capacity of 152 TMC. This is located at an altitude of 1817 feet above sea level and the water from this dam is used for producing power and most of it is just let in to the Arabian Sea. Roughly around 1000 TMC of water goes to the sea every year.
    This water cannot be brought to KRS by gravity because KRS is at an altitude of 2454 feet above the sea level. However, the Mettur dam in Tamil Nadu, into which we are forced to release our precious Cauvery water, is at an altitude of only 775 feet.
    It is possible to cut an underground tunnel from Linganamakki to Mettur dam and send the water by gravity. By doing this we can fulfill our obligation of releasing the 270 TMC of water to Tamil Nadu without sending a drop of Cauvery water. There will still be enough water in Linganamakki for power generation.
    A detailed study must be conducted. The benefit of keeping all the Cauvery water to us will far outweigh the cost of the tunnel making.

    An example of Gravity Fed Aqueduct:
    Los Angeles Aqueduct: There are two Los Angeles aqueducts which do not require energy for pumping water. The first was completed in 1913 for less than $23 million, and includes 223 miles of aqueduct. The second was completed in 1970. It cost nearly $89 million and includes 137 miles of aqueduct. Both pipelines are gravity fed. Today, these projects provide Los Angeles with an average of 254,000 af per year, although there is significant variation in deliveries among years.

    ‘Gravity feed’ is the use of earth's gravity to move something (usually a liquid) from one place to another. It is a simple means of moving a liquid without the use of a pump. This is not a new concept. Ancient Roman aqueducts were gravity-fed. The Los Angeles Aqueduct system, uses gravity alone to move the water, which makes it cost-efficient to operate:

    It will however take enormous political ‘gravitas’, to launch such a project and to complete it successfully in Karnataka.
    VENUGOPAL VR, , Mysuru, Karnataka

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