Chennai, February 17, 2018: The Supreme Court has delivered its verdict on the sharing of Cauvery water by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu’s share has been reduced and this has caused great disappointment. While Tamil Nadu and Karnataka continue their conversation on sharing of Cauvery water, it would be useful to take advantage of the important recommendation made by the Supreme Court for establishing a Cauvery Management Board speedily. This Board should include eminent water technologists and agriculture specialists. In my view, such a Management Board can help to ensure greater economy and equity in sharing Cauvery water by stimulating attention to the following:
Demand Management – all the Cauvery basin states should reduce the demand for water by introducing cropping patterns requiring less water and by adopting drip irrigation and other water saving techniques. The less water requiring cropping system should pay attention to crops which are in demand in the market and which can enhance the income of farmers per unit of water.
Supply Augmentation – the Supreme Court has pointed out that there is scope for Tamil Nadu benefitting from its underutilized aquifer. One method of augmentation is mandatory rainwater harvesting. Since Tamil Nadu is a rain shadow region and water becomes available largely during the Northeast monsoon period, there is scope for water harvesting and storage.
The Cauvery Management Board can give urgent consideration to various opportunities for both demand management and supply augmentation, so that the reduced water allocation does not affect the productivity and income security of the numerous small farm of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu could set-up a Water Security Board inorder to ensure maximum benefits from the Cauvery Management Board proposed by the Supreme Court.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.