The Kaveri River Agreement – a Historical Perspective

The Kaveri river, one of the most important rivers in South India, originates from the Brahmagiri hills in Coorg district of Karnataka and flows through Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry, before finally entering the Bay of Bengal. The river has a total length of 765 km and is a major source of irrigation and drinking water for the states it flows through.

The sharing of Kaveri river water has been a contentious issue between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for several decades. The dispute dates back to the colonial period when the British rulers of India first notified the Madras Presidency of the river`s potential for irrigation purposes. Subsequently, the construction of reservoirs and canals by both states for irrigation purposes led to disputes over the sharing of the river`s water.

The first agreement between the two states was signed in 1924, which was followed by several other agreements in 1974, 1991, and 2007. However, these agreements failed to address the core issues of sharing of water, leading to protests and violence in both states.

In 2018, the Supreme Court of India delivered a verdict on the Kaveri river water dispute, allocating 404.25 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water to Tamil Nadu and 284.75 tmcft to Karnataka, with the remaining amount to be shared by Kerala and Puducherry.

The agreement was welcomed by both states, although there were some protests from farmers and political parties in Karnataka, who felt that the allocation of water was not fair. However, the verdict was seen as a major step towards resolving the long-standing dispute between the two states.

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