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Cauvery water dispute: Is there hope for a permanent solution?


Deepa Balakrishnan,CNN-IBN
Oct 12, 2012 at 09:50am IST

Mandya: The Supreme Court will on Friday hear the contempt case filed by the Tamil Nadu government against Karnataka over the Cauvery water sharing dispute. This comes after the Jagadish Shettar government in Karnataka refused to release 9,000 cusecs of Cauvery water daily to Tamil Nadu despite the Supreme Court's order, citing storage problem at the Krishanaraja Sagar Dam.

But as both the state governments fight over the water, the question is what effect it is having on farmers whether there is hope for a permanent solution. The ragi crop in the paddy and sugarcane belt of Mandya in Karnataka is a reality that farmers like Boraiah chose after uncertainty over water in the Cauvery river. Ragi needs lesser water and some farmers switched crops when the monsoon was delayed. But the majority who risked paddy and sugarcane are worried now as they need water till April and if Karnataka releases water to Tamil Nadu from its reservoirs, farmers fear their standing crop will fail.

Desperate to protect their water reserves for the long season ahead, farmers have been engaged in a fierce agitation against releasing water to Tamizhnad. Unlike the glacier-fed rivers of the north, this is a rain-fed river that depends on the vagaries of the monsoon and while it quenches the thirst of many farmers across hundreds of miles in the good monsoon years, it seems to quench the thirst of politicians more in the distress years.

It's a sentiment that every politician wants to build on ahead of the Assembly polls to be seen as a farmer's champion. While groups like the Cauvery Family, a union of apolitical farmers, have tried to find solutions like desilting tanks and changing crop patters, this has often failed because of lack of political backing.

BB Subbaiah, Karnataka convenor, Cauvery Family, says, "Farmers per se, we understand our problems, we agree, but certain people, factors and elements don't want consensus, they want this problem to be alive. It is a sorry state of affairs." But until there's a long term solution, every time the monsoons fail, politics will succeed.

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