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Garima Ranjan, Pune

The enduring and contentious Cauvery water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu revolves around allocating the Cauvery River’s water resources. Rooted in historical agreements, this ongoing issue has given rise to legal battles, protests, and strained relations between the two states.

Karnataka’s Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, has made a significant decision by allowing the “Bengaluru bandh,” organized by specific farmer groups, to proceed on Tuesday. This decision reflects the intensifying protests about releasing the Cauvery River’s water to Tamil Nadu. Siddaramaiah’s prior appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to mediate in the Cauvery water dispute underscores the importance of finding a central authority to facilitate discussions between the two states.

The Cauvery water dispute remains deeply rooted and contentious, with historical, political, and economic implications for both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The decision to let the Bengaluru bandh proceed highlights the urgency of addressing this issue and finding a balanced solution that addresses the water needs of both states while mitigating tensions and protests.

This dispute originates from historical agreements made during British colonial rule, notably the 1892 and 1924 agreements, which allocated specific shares of Cauvery water to Karnataka (then part of the Madras Presidency) and Tamil Nadu. The lapse of the 1924 agreement in 1974 led to disagreements over water distribution.

Tamil Nadu asserts its rightful claim to a specific volume of Cauvery water to meet its agricultural and drinking water needs. At the same time, Karnataka contends that it cannot release as much water as demanded due to its increasing water requirements for agriculture and urban development.

Over the years, this dispute has sparked widespread protests, strikes, and even incidents of violence, particularly in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, straining the relationship between these neighboring states.