Tamil Nadu is staring at a massive water shortage. It is not just neighbouring Karnataka that is proposing a new dam over Cauvery that will further starve Tamil Nadu’s delta region but now Kerala is also making preparations to erect a dam at Atlapadi over Siruvani that can potentially turn three districts of Coimbatore, Erode and Tirupur into deserts in the worst-case scenario.
Farmers in Tamil Nadu have called for a bandh on Tuesday to protest Karnataka’s decision to deny TN its share of Cauvery waters.. A united opposition is backing the farmers in its rail and road roko agitation. Federation of farmers’ associations chief chief BR Pandian said on Monday at protestors would stop trains at 100 places block highways at 1000 places to register their protest.
Incidentally, the TN government has petitioned the Supreme Court to direct Karnataka to release 50 tmcft water as per the Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal. The Apex court will hear the case on September 2.
The momentum is building up in Tamil Nadu on the water issue with principal opposition party, the DMK taking it up in a big way, to target Kerala as well. On Saturday, DMK legislative party leader and Treasurer MK Stalin is scheduled to lead a huge protest against Kerala in Coimbatore to impress upon union government to refuse permission to Kerala to build the proposed dam.
Incidentally, Kerala has been trying to erect a dam over Siruvani since the early 1970s but Tamil Nadu has managed to block it so far.
Even as Tamil Nadu is engaged in a battle with Kerala and Karnataka, its northern neighbour Andhra Pradesh has been increasing the height of check dams in Chittoor district has for the past six months. The exercise will trap water there and reduce TN’s share.
Stalin has condemned the Andhra Pradesh government for this activity, alleging that it was being carried out without consultations with TN government and without its consent. He has sought a house resolution against Andhra Pradesh government. The TN government had filed a petition in the apex court.
“The three neighbouring states – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala -- are threatening the lifeline of Tamil Nadu,” farmers’ leader Pandian said.
Prof Ramu Manivannan of Madras University said that “if one dispassionately analyzed the situation, the actions of the three neighbouring states will appear to be unfair to deny the lower riverine state like Tamil Nadu its rightful due of drinking water and irrigation water.”
“If the height of a check dam is increased without the consent of the lower riverine state like Tamil Nadu, it is patently unfair and wrong. It violates the Constitution as well,” Prof Manivannan said adding “water should be declared a national asset rather than leave it to the autonomous discretion of state governments.”
“The centre must come out with a lasting political solution to the complicated problem that affects the lives of the common man.”
The three main rivers that flow through Tamil Nadu – Palar, Cauvery and Siruvani – originate in other states. There has been a dispute over sharing Palar river waters between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka since 1924
Even if the centre does not interfere, the southern states should draw inspiration from the recent river water sharing agreement between Telangana and Maharashtra, which too have an issue with sharing river waters, Prof Manivannan said.