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World Rivers Day: 5 River Disputes that you must know!

While the world is celebrating World Rivers Day, know about these 5 river water disputes


World Rivers Day is celebrated every fourth Sunday of September. World Rivers Day is a celebration of waterways across the world. This year the fourth Sunday is on September 25, so the special day will be celebrated on September 25. Rivers are facing threats these days, and the time calls for people’s active involvement to maintain the rivers’ health. Our states are not divided as per the rivers (it was also impossible), and a dispute between two states for the water is bound to happen. Here are some of the river disputes in India.

1. Cauvery Water Dispute

This water dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka is more than a century old. After Independence, the Karnataka government complained about more share of the water in their state. It also said the present arrangement was highly skewed in Tamil Nadu’s favour. Later the VP Singh government set up a Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) to look into the inter-state dispute over water from the river.

Out of the total 740 TMC (thousand million cubic feet), the tribunal gave 270 TMC to Karnataka and 419 TMC to Tamil Nadu in 2007. Karnataka was unsatisfied with the order and moved to the Supreme Court and claimed 312 TMC of water. As per the latest judgement, Karnataka gets 284.75 TMC, Tamil Nadu gets 404.25 TMC, and the rest are divided into Kerala, Puducherry and more.

2. Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal

This dispute started after the formation of Haryana in 1966. States involved in the conflicts are Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. To enable Haryana to use the waters of Beas and Satluj, a canal linking the Satluj to the Yamuna was planned. Haryana approached the Supreme Court in 2002 to construct the SYL (Satluj-Yamuna Link) canal. In 2004, the Punjab Assembly passed the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, scrapping water-sharing agreements with other states. This jeopardized the construction of the channel.

The apex court then declared the act unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has asked Haryana and Punjab to maintain the status quo in the SYL dispute. The recent hearing in the matter has offered a mediator between Haryana and Punjab.

3. Krishna Water Dispute

The Krishna River is an east-flowing river that originates at Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra and merges with the Bay of Bengal, flowing through Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Together with its tributaries, the river forms a vast basin that covers 33% of the total area of the 4 states. A dispute over water sharing from the Krishna River has been going on for decades. It started with Hyderabad and Mysore states and now is continuing between the successors Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

4. Vamsadhara River

The Vamsadhara river is an essential east-flowing river between Godavari and Rushikulya in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The river originates in Odisha and runs 254 kilometres to join the Bay of Bengal in Andhra Pradesh. Andhra Pradesh wants to build the Neradi bridge across the river, which is only possible if Odisha says yes. Odisha says the flood flow canal will dry up the existing river bed, and the consequent river shifting will affect the groundwater table.

5. Mahadayi River Dispute

Karnataka’s move to design several dams, canals, and barrages to route the river water of Mahadayi to the Malaprabha basin triggered the dispute on the river. Karnataka wants to channel the water into the basin of Malaprabha, a Krishan tributary, to meet the water-scarcity requirements in the districts of Gadag, Bagalkot, Belagavi and Dharwad. Goa says that its population depends on the river’s natural path, and diversifying it will affect the fragile ecosystem.

The state claims that the ingress of saltwater into the river will ultimately kill Goa’s green belt and mangroves. It will also disturb people’s relationship with the land and the ecological balance. The Supreme Court has put a stay on the construction of dams and canals by Karnataka on the Mahadayi river for now.

Edited by Ayushi Mittal

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