Context- The Supreme Court has declined to intervene in a dispute between Tamil Nadu and
Karnataka over the sharing of Cauvery water. The Cauvery dispute has been ongoing for
decades, and has been officially resolved, but tensions still continue to remain.
What are the reasons behind existing inter-state water dispute?
- First, the government creates tribunals for each dispute. However, these tribunals are
ineffective because they are ad hoc, their conflict resolution procedures frequently lead
to new issues, and their judgements have little legal basis.
- Further, when states challenge their decisions, the conflict is only exacerbated.
- Second, Climate change and other factors, such as erratic rainfall, depleting
groundwater, and water-intensive cropping patterns, are intensifying river disputes.
- Third, the existing Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956, relies on tribunals to
- In 2017, the Lok Sabha passed the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill to
create a single permanent tribunal and a mediation committee, but the implementation
has not yet been done.
What can be the way ahead?
- India is predicted to become “water scarce” by 2050. River water disputes are projected
to grow in the future, since the Cauvery, like other major rivers, has seen declining water
- Hence, it is important for the Indian government to urgently pass a law that gives
tribunals the power to enforce their decisions. This will help to resolve inter-state river
water disputes more quickly and effectively.