Don’t let the Cauvery water dispute fester any more
The Centre must be proactive so that water conflicts such as the Cauvery dispute are resolved at the earliestUpdated: Apr 03, 2018 16:22 IST
On Monday, Parliament was adjourned by noon after AIADMK MPs protested demanding the formation of a Cauvery Water Management Board. The protest, and a series of other stirs planned by parties in Tamil Nadu, shows how, despite the Supreme Court verdict on February 16, there has been little progress in settling the Cauvery dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The apex court had asked the Centre to put in place a scheme within six weeks to ensure that both states got their respective share of the river water. That period ended on March 29 and not much progress has been made. On April 9, the court will hear the Tamil Nadu government’s contempt petition against the Centre for not setting up the board.
The AIADMK’s threat of a no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government is the second instance in as many weeks of a regional party targeting the Centre — the TDP MPs quit the NDA on the grounds that the Centre failed to grant Andhra Pradesh special category status. The AIADMK’s threat is unlikely to rock the government, which has the numbers on its side. It is a manifestation of the changing political scenario in Tamil Nadu and an attempt by the state government to gain the upper hand against its regional rivals. These rivals have been successful in highlighting the state government’s failure to extract ‘Tamil Nadu-friendly policies’ from the Union government. The failure of the AIADMK, which with 37 MPs is the third-largest party in the Lok Sabha, to wrest more concessions from the Centre for Tamil Nadu reflects the lack of a political leader in the AIADMK who can hold his own with the Centre.
The larger problem with the Cauvery issue, as indeed with many other issues concerning a state government and the Centre, is that both sides invariably politicise the issue. In this case the Centre’s delay in implementing the court’s order is with an eye on the Karnataka election. Both governments need to move beyond political opportunism.