Worse, political statements add further fuel to the fire on the streets.

The Cauvery political rhetoric which achieves nothing but flaring up tensions on the ground
Voices Water Dispute Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 10:02

“Only blood can be given to Tamil Nadu by slitting our throat,” thundered Karnataka Health and Family Welfare minister Ramesh Kumar to reporters in Kolar, when he was asked about releasing Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu as demanded by the state.

Farmers and leaders in Tamil Nadu had called for bandh owing to Karnataka’s refusal to release water, because Karnataka too is facing a water crisis.

Ramesh Kumar did go on to assuage tempers by calling people of TN his “brothers”, but the shrill rhetoric was lost on no one.

Kumar’s colleagues also added to the rhetoric. Law and Parliamentary affairs minister of the state TB Jayachandra asked Tamil Nadu to build its own dams on the Cauvery as Karnataka had no water to release.

In the neighbouring states of TN and Puducherry, a political slugfest is on to gain brownie points, with the infighting leading to no actual solutions for the farmers.

If in Tamil Nadu, DMK chief Karunanidhi launched a tirade against Jayalalithaa for “remaining silent” on the issue and “warned” that no party which fails the people of TN will be spared, in Puducherry, AIADMK leaders were accosting the Congress CM Narayanswami to condemn his counterpart in Karnataka, CM Siddaramaiah.

But to what avail is such rhetoric by leaders of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu? And what solution will emerge from the political blame game?

Worse, political statements add further fuel to the fire on the streets.

The worst of the flare-ups was in 1991, after the Supreme Court, the President of India and the water-dispute tribunal forced Karnataka to accept an interim order to release water to Tamil Nadu. Riots broke out in several parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, with Tamil families having to flee Bengaluru fearing violent attacks. Much violence has been seen in the border areas of TN too, with buses being burnt and shops being shuttered. People of both states live under fear every time the issue comes to the fore.

With decades of negotiation between states going nowhere, and the legal tussles continuing over the issue, the Cauvery river water sharing problem has long since transformed into a dream cause for politicians. It is a perennial issue with no solution in sight, and political parties can milk it monsoon after monsoon. 

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