Aggressive Tamil Nadu corners its neighbouring states to win fresh water supply

Chennai, Sept 7: Futurists had already predicted that the coming world war will be for winning the share of fresh water supply. And if Tamil Nadu and its neighbouring states Kerala and Karnataka were independent nations, they would have completely split into axis and allied powers heading for the third edition of World War.

Tamil Nadu has been involved in long lists of disputes with its neighbouring states for claiming the fresh water supply from Mullaperiyar- Kerala and Cauvery in Karnataka.

The Cauvery water dispute, which has been a long standing dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for decades now, has again led to violence in the region after Supreme Court directed Karnataka state government to release 15,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu for the next 10 days in an attempt to save the samba crops.

Cauvery Horata Samiti, the organisation which has been at the forefront of issue in Karnataka, called for a statewide ‘bandh’ leading to violent protests by farmers. The protests have affected public transport facilities, schools, colleges and government offices in Mandya.

This crucial dispute has always influenced the politics of the region as the river has a deep cultural significance for them. The economic and religious emotions are also glued to the same.

This, in turn, led to a situation where the public opinion became more rigid with time making it even difficult for the political outfits to find a common ground.

Even Kerala and Puduchery had laid claim for the Cauvery during the post independence period and a Fact Finding Committee was set up to resolve the dispute among the southern states of the nation.

Tamil Nadu Government and its citizens always threw a full throttle struggle to get the water resources diverted to the state aiming to increase the agriculture sector. Many-a-times they even resorted to violence to attain  the victory.

TN with Kerala

The Mullaperiyar dam on the Periyar river belongs to the state of Kerala. The state wanted to repair or rebuild the 116-year-old dam, because the government and denizens residing in proximity to  the dam feared that the dam could fail because it has developed leaks and because tremors around it have become more frequent in recent months. An estimated 3 million people live downstream from the dam and could be submerged if it is breached.

More than 100 years ago, Kerala agreed to divert the east-flowing river and leased a piece of its territory to the other state for 999 years. In return, Kerala now receives 1 million rupees, or about $19,000, a year. Historians believe that the king of Travancore signed the deal under pressure in the face of demands of the bigger state that was backed by India’s British rulers.

Kerala was also making efforts to erect a dam at Attapadi over Siruvani that can potentially turn three districts of Coimbatore, Erode and Tirupur into deserts in the worst-case scenario.

Even when Tamil Nadu was engaged in a tireless dispute with Kerala and Karnataka, its northern neighbour Andhra Pradesh has been increasing the height of check dams in Chittoor district. The exercise intended to trap more water and reduce TN’s share.

DMK Party leader M K Stalin had 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.

The three main rivers that passes through Tamil Nadu – Palar, Cauvery and Siruvani – but originates in other states. There has been a dispute over sharing fresh water from Palar river 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 Ramu Manivannan of Madras University said.

Agrarian Tamilians

Despite of adverse climatic conditions and lack of water supply, Tamil Nadu managed to increase the agriculture production by 50 per cent within 15 years. This cuts an impressive figure when compared with its neighbouring states who are blessed with more amenities and resources.