In a 'water-mark' judgment, the Apex Court has ruled that rivers do not belong to States but to the country, while delivering its Cauvery verdict. This shall be the baseline for future judgments in the country. There are several disputes arising of river waters sharing in the country and several cases are pending in the Apex Court including those involving Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The verdict is bound to have its ramifications on the Southern politics, as it comes just months before the Karnataka Assembly elections. And in Tamil Nadu, two stalwarts have already come forward with announcements of new parties. Both Rajnikanth and Kamal Haasan are questioning the established norms. The honourable Supreme Court has considered several aspects, but not these politics, as well all know. It has taken into account the 120-year-old history of the dispute and the ground realities.
Water flows, water availability, rainfall pattern and even the ground water availability were all weighed in properly. The verdict is not about just water. It is also about the responsibilities of the governments and the needs of the people. It is a path-breaking judgment in every sense as it clearly earmarked the drinking water needs of Bengaluru too by considering the entire global city as a part of Cauvery basin region.
This has, however, not dealt any great blow to Tamil Nadu, but just made its share shrink by just 14.25 tmcft. Perhaps, what causes a bigger disappointment to the lower riparian State is the fact that the Apex Court did not allow its plea to set a timeline for the release of the Cauvery waters by Karnataka. This gives more breathing space for Karnataka during crisis periods such as drought. The verdict reduced Tamil Nadu's share of water from the river Cauvery and Karnataka will receive a bigger share.
Karnataka will now release 177.25 tmcft or thousand million cubic feet to Tamil Nadu instead of 192 tmcft. While Siddaramaiah was celebrating "his victory," the Centre was quick to step in to state that interlinking of river waters would ensure more water availability for all the States including Tamil Nadu.
Completion of Polavaram is one of the solutions, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said because the surplus water could then be sent to Krishna and then onwards to Pennar, to be connected to Cauvery which would help Tamil Nadu. This verdict now gives one a hint of the outcome of the dispute involving Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Anyway, it is time the States learned not just sharing of the waters, but also conserving the same. Change in agricultural practices is also important.