Inter-State River Water Disputes have become one of the most contentious challenges to Indian federalism.
The latest Supreme Court case between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over Pennaiyar river water sharing
The Pennaiyar River is a river in southern India that flows through the regions of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Water, that is water supplies, irrigation and canals, drainage and embankments, water storage, and water power subject to the rules of List I of the Seventh Schedule, is defined in Entry 17 of the Seventh Schedule.
The Interstate River Water Disputes Act, of 1956 was passed under Article 262 of the Indian Constitution. To resolve water conflicts arising from the use, control, and distribution of an interstate river or river valley. There were numerous amendments enacted to make necessary alterations to the outdated act. The most recent amendment was in 2019, and it streamlined the adjudication of inter-state river water conflicts.
After a dispute over water sharing, the Supreme Court allowed the Tamil Nadu government to exercise the powers of the Central government under the provisions of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act and seek the constitution in November 2019.
The Centre established the negotiations committee to settle the water dispute on January 20, 2020.
According to the State, the executive action of Karnataka by its various works has prejudicially affected the State’s rights and interests in the river Pennaiyar and its tributaries, an inter-state river, in violation of the 1892 and 1933 agreements.
Tamil Nadu complained that Karnataka has begun construction of a reservoir across Markandeyanadhi, a tributary of Pennaiyar, diverting surplus waters from Varathur tank, implementing a lift irrigation scheme at Yellamallappa Chetty tank, pumping water at Belahalli, and a scheme to pump Pennariyar waters from Thattanur village to distribute to 160 tanks.
Since the Supreme Court’s deadline for establishing the Pennaiyar tribunal has passed, the Tamil Nadu government is awaiting the government’s next course of action.
Way to move forward
To find a solution, the states must look outside of the box. Rather than procrastinating, the states should consider a solution at the basin level that is both sustainable and ecologically feasible.
The multiple levels of resolving interstate water disputes are eliminated in a single step through setting up clear guidelines on river water sharing without making it political.