Thursday, Aug 07, 2003
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By Alladi Jayasri
Five years on, the issue may be nowhere near resolution, but the tone and tenor of dialogue at the CRA has changed. The alternative model for dispute resolution and broadening the base of stakeholders has entered the realm of the possible.
From Karnataka's perspective, as has been articulated by the former Minister for Irrigation, H.N. Nanje Gowda, an expert on Cauvery-related issues, and even the State Government itself, being the upper riparian unit, the State has always been focussed on working for a strong and foolproof distress-sharing formula. It also witnessed belligerence and an uncharitable mood among the farmers here, as the Government had to comply with the Supreme Court directive to release 1.25 tmcft of water during August last when the Cauvery Basin was reeling under severe drought.
The failure of the monsoon for the past two years, and the Tamil Nadu Government's proclivity to approach the Supreme Court or seek the intervention of the CRA every time it perceives that Karnataka is disregarding the conditions laid out in the interim order are all occupational hazards in the latter's book.
The State, in its pursuit of the distress-sharing formula, has tended to go on the defensive, and has studiously avoided confrontation at all the fora, be it the CRA, the tribunal, or the court. It has chosen to respond to complaints from Tamil Nadu, and stated its case in defence, rather than take a proactive stand and push for a distress-sharing formula that it conceived and demonstrated effectively.
It has never been known to "boycott" the CRA or the tribunal and continues to make overtures to Tamil Nadu for dialogue as the best means to work towards dispute resolution. Of late, it has welcomed the initiatives that seek to move away from the political exercise that all initiatives on the issue have now become.
The stakeholders, including farmers and village communities from both States along the Cauvery, who have been making common cause outside the political mechanisms, have been welcomed and encouraged in Karnataka, and the Government is awaiting the views and ideas of this new alternative forum in which academics, techno-experts, farmers, and community constituents all have a role to play.
Karnataka wants the CRA to be a relevant mechanism, with its own role to play in the dispute resolution. This is the forum where the experiences from initiatives such as the multi-stakeholders' dialogue, moderated by the Madras Institute of Development Studies, can be debated and brought to the notice of the political body.
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