Some of the Inter-State Water Disputes and States Involved:

1. Narmada Water Dispute- Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan
2. Mahi River Dispute- Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh
3. Ravi and Beas Water Dispute- Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi
4. Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal Dispute- Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan
5. Yamuna River Water Dispute- Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh
and Delhi.
6. Karmnasa River Water Dispute- Uttar Pradesh and Bihar
7. Barak River Water Dispute- Assam and Manipur
8 . Cauvery Water Dispute- Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka
9. Krishna Water Dispute- Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh
10. Tungabhadra Water Dispute- Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka
11. Aliyar and Bhivani River Water Dispute- Tamil Nadu and Kerala
12. Godavari River Water Dispute- Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh

Cauvery River

ORIGIN: Talakaveri, Kodagu- Karnataka.

  • On Brahmagiri Range. (Western Ghats)
  • Designated as Dakshina Ganga (Ganga of the south)
  • Length – 765 km
  • The Cavery/ Kaveri extends over states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and UT of Pondicherry


Left Bank- Hemvati, Shimsha, Arkavathy.

Right Bank- Kabini, Bhavani Noyyal, Amravati.

  • The Nilgiris, an offshore of Western ghats, extend Eastwards to the Eastern ghats and divide the basin into two natural and political regions i.e., Karnataka plateau in the North and the Tamil Nadu plateau in the South.
  • Physiographically, the basin can be divided into three parts — the Westen Ghats, the Plateau of Mysore and the Delta.
  • The delta area is the most fertile tract in the basin. The principal soil types found in the basin are black soils, red soils, laterites, alluvial soils, forest soils and mixed soils.
  • Red soils; occupy large areaes in the basin.

It is, therefore almost a perennial river with comparatively less fluctuations in flow and is very useful for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.

Projects on Cauvery River

  • During the pre-plan period many projects were completed in this basin which included Krishnarajasagar in Karnataka, Mettur dam and Cauvery delta system in Tamil Nadu.
  • Lower Bhavani, liemavati, Harangi, Kabini are important projects completed duing the plan period.

Industry in Cauvery Basin

  • The city of Bangalore is situated just outside this basin.
  • Important industries in the basin include cotton textile industry in Coimbatore and Mysore, cement factories in Coimbatore and Trichinapally and industries based on mineral and metals
  • The salem stell plant and many engineering industries in Coimbator and trichinapally are also situated in this basin.


Initially, the dispute was between Karnataka and TN but later Kerala and Puducherry also entered the fray.

History – Initially too plans were made to utilize Kaveri, but the drought and famine put them on hold.


The Cauvery dispute started in the year 1892, between the Madras Presidency (under the British Raj) and the Princely state of Mysore when they had to come to terms with dividing the river water between the two states.

  • Under the control of the British, a 1924-agreement which laid down the directives of the Krishnarajsagar dam was signed. It

gave both, the Madras Presidency and the Princely state of Mysore the right to use to use the water of Cauvery.

  • However, owing to Madras’ objection to the construction of the Krishnarajasagar dam, the agreement also allowed it to build the Mettur dam.
    • According to the 1924 agreements the river water is distributed as 75% with Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, 23% to Karnataka and remaining to go to Kerala. Consequently, the arrangement also lead to the restrictions being put on the area that could be safely irrigated by both states using the Cauvery water.
  • Post- independence

Through the late 20th century, Tamil Nadu opposed the construction of dams on the river by Karnataka, and the state in turn wanted to discontinue the water supply to Tamil Nadu. They argued that the 1924 agreement had lapsed when its 50 years were up in 1974 and considering that the river originated in Karnataka, they had better claim over the river. They argued that they were not bound by the agreement struck between the British empire and the Maharaja of Mysore.

Karnataka says water should be divided according to international laws, i.e, in equal portions. 94 % should be divided.

Poitical gains, protect and Dharnas.


A farmer’s Association from thanjavner moved to supreme courts.


Supreme Court- Asked states to complete negotiations.

  • States failed to do so.
  • SC directed the center to form a tribunal.

Owing to Tamil Nadu government’s appeal to the Central government in 1986 to constitute a tribunal for solving the issue under Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956.

Tribunal gave us award after calculating the average inflow into TN 10 years

  • Karnataka rejected the award
  • Enough Rain in next few years

1995- KA received less Rainfall. TN went to SC to release 30 TMC ft.

-Both SC and KA  did not entertain the demand.

SC- asked PM to intervene

1998- Canvery River Authority was formed.

PM- Head.

4 CMs- Members.

2007 Tribunal Around is order-

Tamil Nadu would be allocated 419 tmc ft water (56.62%) and Karnataka 270 tmc ft. (36.48%). Kerala was given 30 tmc ft (4.05%) and

Puducherry 7 tmc ft (0.94%). However, both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka filed a review petition before the Tribunal.

TMC- Thousand Million Cubic Feet.

2012 – PM Manmohan Singh Headed CRA directed the KA to release 9,000 causes of water.

  • The issue escalates when monsoon falls

What needs to be done?

  • Ideally, any distress-sharing formula should come from a technical body. It would have helped if the Centre, which dilly-dallied for six years before notifying the final award under a judicial direction, had set up the Cauvery Management Board and Regulatory Authority
  • In the longer term, experts will have to devise a sustainable agricultural solution for the Cauvery basin, as the river does not seem to have the potential to meet the farming requirements of both sides.
  • In a world of depleting water resources, fewer crop seasons and lower acreages, a resort to less water-intensive crops and better water management hold the key.
  •  Non-political initiatives, such as the ‘Cauvery Family’, a body formed a few years ago covering farmers of both States, could help disperse the clouds of hostility that gather over the border whenever the Cauvery crisis erupts. Politics and passion should not be allowed to hold sway.
  •  Karnataka, Tamil Nadu. Kerala and Puduchery need to shed their present regional approach and plan collectively for the whole river basin. Farmers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu need to understand each other’s needs and fears and collectively seek solutions.
  • Initiatives like Cauvery Family, an inter-state collective of farmer groups in the two states, could facilitate this process. Besides, transmission of quick and accurate information — rainfall to reservoir storage — could help dispel the current mistrust among the different stake-holders.

The fact is the Cauvery basin is overdeveloped and legal instruments arc insufficient to address the recurring water crisis.