Home >Politics >Policy >Cauvery water dispute verdict: A timeline

The Supreme Court on Friday cut Tamil Nadu’s quota of Cauvery water by 14.75 tmcft and increased Karnataka’s share to meet Bengaluru’s drinking water needs. Tamil Nadu will get 404.25 tmcft, which will be 14.75 tmcft less than what was allotted by the tribunal in 2007. The 2007 tribunal award of 30 tmcft to Kerala and 7 tmcft water to Puducherry will remain unchanged, said the Supreme Court in its verdict.

The Cauvery water dispute is 122 years old. Here is a timeline of events leading to the verdict on Friday:

1892: Cauvery river water dispute starts between Madras Presidency (under the British rule) and the Princely state of Mysore. Madras disagrees to Mysore administration’s proposal to build irrigation systems, arguing that it would impede water flow into Tamil Nadu.

1913-1916: Mysore government writes to Madras Presidency, seeking permission to build a reservoir, leading to a dispute that ends with the arbitrator giving Mysore permission to construct a dam up to 11 tmcft. The verdict is challenged.

1924: The dispute comes close to being resolved when Mysore and Madras reach an agreement under which Mysore is allowed to build a dam at Kannambadi village. The agreement is to be valid for 50 years and reviewed thereafter. Based on this agreement, Karnataka builds the Krishnaraja Sagar dam.

1929: An agreement is reached, meant to clarify the 1924 agreement allowing the construction of the Krishnaraja Sagar dam in Mysore and to specify exactly how much water would be released to Madras. Krishnaraja dam becomes functional in 1931 and the Mettur dam in 1934.

1974: The 1924 water sharing agreement between then Madras Presidency and Princely State of Mysore (now Tamil Nadu and Karnataka) lapses after expiration of its term of 50 years.

1986: Tamil Nadu approaches the centre for setting up a tribunal for disputes arising out of Cauvery water sharing.

2 June 1990: A Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT), headed by justice Chittatosh Mookerjee, set up under the centre after the Supreme Court’s direction.

25 June 1991: CWDT passes an interim award asking Karnataka to release 205 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu every year. It also directed Karnataka not to increase its irrigated land area from the existing 1,120,000 acres (around 4,500 km).

As a result, there was widespread dissatisfaction and violence in the two states.

11 December 1991: CWDT’s interim award notified by the centre after the Supreme Court struck down an ordinance issued by Karnataka and upheld the award.

August 1998: The Cauvery River Authority (CRA) constituted by the centre for the implementation of the interim award of the CWDT.

September 2002: The CRA directs Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs per day of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu. The body was presided over by then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee

5 February 2007: CWDT passes the final award and allotted 30 tmc to Kerala, 270 tmc to Karnataka, 419 tmc to Tamil Nadu and 7 tmc to Puducherry. Additionally, 14 tmc was reserved for environmental “inevitable escapages" into the sea.

19 February 2013: The centre notifies the final award of the CWDT, on the direction of the Supreme Court.

19 March 2013: Tamil Nadu moves the Supreme Court, seeking directions to the water ministry for constitution of the Cauvery Management Board.

28 May 2013: Tamil Nadu moves the Supreme Court, seeking Rs2,480 crore in damages from Karnataka for not following the orders of the CWDT.

26 June 2013: Tamil Nadu moves SC for constitution of the Cauvery Management Board.

22 August 2016: Tamil Nadu files petition in the Supreme Court, seeking direction to the state of Karnataka to release water to Tamil Nadu.

6 September 2016: SC directs Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs a day till 15 September. Karnataka released 10,000 cusecs of water from the Krishna Raja Sagara dam to Tamil Nadu. State witnesses widespread unrest.

12 September 2016: Supreme Court modifies direction, asks Karnataka to release 12,000 cusecs a day till 20 September instead of the earlier 15,000 cusecs per day till 16 September.

20 September 2017: Bench comprising CJI Dipak Misra and justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Amitava Roy reserve verdict in the Cauvery water dispute between the two neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

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