Cauvery dispute - deliberate inflaming of passions

Cauvery River Water Tribunal's verdict of 5th Feb, 2007 was finally announced in the Gazette on 19th Feb 19, 2013, a day before the ultimatum set by the Supreme Court.

This decision has been announced barely two months before Karnataka goes to the polls. The announcement of this decision at this time is a deliberate move to inflame passions on all sides, and ensure that there is no just resolution of this longstanding dispute between Karnataka and Tamilnadu over the sharing of the Cauvery waters.

Rivers provided the lifeline for the birth of human civilization. They gave birth, over thousands of years, to tribes, nationalities and nations. Nations and peoples revere the rivers that have given them life.  With the development of capitalism to its highest stage of imperialism, everything has been turned into a private property and a source of maximum monopoly profits.  This has led to numerous disputes over the usage of river waters all over the world.   

There are numerous river water disputes between the states of the Indian Union. The Indian state also has river water disputes with its neighbors including Pakistan (Jhelum), Bangladesh (Teesta), Nepal (over many rivers) and China (Bramhaputra). Within India, the Cauvery dispute has proved to be one of the most longstanding and bitterly contested disputes. 

Cauvery is the major river of both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.  She has been the lifeline for agriculture in both these states.    Kerala and Puducherry are the other parties to the dispute. Cauvery is an almost fully utilised river.  As a result, if Karnataka, the upper riparian state, unilaterally decides to capture more of the water and reduce the flow into the lower riparian states, it affects the livelihood of lakhs of people in Tamilnadu.

Under British colonial rule, there have been agreements on the use of Cauvery water between Madras Presidency and the Princely state of Mysore, in 1892 and 1924. The British colonialists used their dominant position and the position of Mysore as a vassal state to push through an agreement against the interests of the people of Mysore. Uneven development of capitalism after political independence further aggravated the problem.  The Government of India has not followed a principled approach to the problem, but instead played one state against the other to keep the issue burning.  Different bourgeois parties have manipulated the issue to incite passions in pursuit of their narrow interests.   

The Cauvery agreement of 1924 was to elapse in 1974. Tamilnadu made a formal request to the Government of India to refer the dispute to a Tribunal under section 3 of Inter-state water disputes Act in 1968. At that time, the first non-Congress Government was in place in Tamilnadu, while Karnataka was ruled by the Congress Party. Until 1996, till the period of United Fronts at the centre began, Tamilnadu had negligible influence in New Delhi. The central government silently permitted Karnataka to build numerous dams on the Cauvery, which resulted in significant reduction of water flow to Tamilnadu.

More than two decades later, at the direction of the Supreme Court, a Tribunal was set up by the central government in June 1990.  In 1991, following the first order issued by this Tribunal, Congress Party and some regional capitalist parties in Karnataka organized attacks and killing of Tamils in that state, including in the capital city of Bengaluru.  Many shops belonging to Tamils were looted and burnt down. More than 200 persons were lynched by goons, and Tamil women were raped and humiliated. Several Tamil schools were ransacked and set ablaze, and many factories owned by Tamils in industrial areas were ransacked. Approximately 15,000 huts of Tamil-speaking workers were razed to the ground.  Nearly 200,000 Tamil workers were compelled to flee Karnataka at that time.

The Cauvery Tribunal delivered its verdict in 2007, advocating that the status quo be preserved. For six years, the UPA government slept over the recommendations of the Tribunal.  

It took 22 years to decide to set up a Cauvery Waters Tribunal; this Tribunal took another 17 years to come up with a verdict; and the central government took a further 6 years to announce this in its gazette!

It is very clear that the rulers of our country have no intention of resolving the Cauvery dispute. On the contrary, they are keen to exacerbate this issue to any level in order to organize sectarian violence against this or that section of the people.  They stand in the way of the peoples finding a mutually beneficial solution.

At the present time, Congress Party, BJP and various regional capitalist parties of Tamilnadu and Karnataka are deliberately preying on the insecurity of peasants. They want to inflame passions and advance their respective narrow agendas.

It is important that the peasantry and the masses of workers of both Karnataka and Tamilnadu not fall into the trap of the bourgeoisie and its parties.  It is important to build the unity of workers and peasants in Tamilnadu and in Karnataka, and the unity of the peoples of the two states, for the sake of resolving the Cauveri dispute amicably. 

The existing Indian Republic is colonial and imperialist in nature.  It is driven by the dictates of the biggest capitalist monopolies.  We must fight with the aim of establishing a voluntary union of workers’ and peasants’ republics, which will harmonise the interests of different nations with one another and with the general interest of society.


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Puducherry    Kerala    British colonialists    Tamilnadu    Karnataka    Cauvery Waters Tribunal    Mar 16-31 2013    Voice of the Party    History    Popular Movements     Rights    

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