Cauvery: Fretting finale

By Balakumar K Published on Apr 13, 2018 03:49 PM IST

The one thing that unites us Tamilians, irrespective of our caste, creed, colour is that these days we always seem to be in: protest mode.

Right now, TN is a playground of multifarious protests. AIADMK is protesting in Parliament over the non-setting up of the Cauvery Management Board.

The DMK is protesting against the AIADMK because it (DMK) feels that it (AIADMK) is not protesting enough on the Cauvery issue.

The Congress is protesting that nobody is taking note of its protest. The BJP is protesting nobody knows why.  Vaiko is protesting Seeman. Seeman and others are protesting because they have found it profitable. The Communists are protesting because they are Communists and are good for nothing else. Farmers are protesting in Chennai and Delhi because there is no Cauvery in Tanjore.

Bharathiraja and Ameer are protesting because it seems a good pastime as they are work-less. The city youths are protesting because CSK matches are moved out of Chennai and now they are deprived of one less venue to take selfies in. Kamal Haasan is protesting but misspells it as proseting.

Rajinikanth is protesting because it is new to him to see people protesting to what he says. T Rajendher and Simbu are protesting, too, giving farmers in their hour of trouble, something to seriously laugh at.

But among these protests, the Cauery one is an abiding one. This week, as Tamils celebrate Tamil New Year, we look in detail at the chequered history of Cauvery protests and verdicts that are as old as the State itself:

Cauvery issue in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka is like encounters between Real Madrid and Barcelona football clubs --- the fortunes fluctuate from season to season.

Last time around (two years ago), when the Supreme Court verdict was deemed to be in favour of Tamil Nadu, responsible Kannadigas like Vattal Nagaraj, in a show of solidarity to the suffering Karnataka farmers, put the rest of the State to the same suffering by holding bandhs and strikes.

In case you didn'’t know who Vattal Nagaraj is, well, he is a swell chap, with his longstanding LinkedIn Profile reading: Employed at stoning and setting ablaze vehicles from Tamil Nadu. Special skill: Can spell his own name.

This season, Tamil Nadu is the aggrieved party as the Supreme Court has reduced the amount of Cauvery water to be released to it. And thanks to the adroit involvement of people like Bharathiraja and Seeman, we have found a solution that should be agreeable to the hapless Cauvery delta farmers: Shift CSK’s home matches to Pune.

But wait, I can hear you shout, why does the Supreme Court give out verdicts on the Cauvery issue from season to season? Did it not deliver its final verdict in the case two years ago?

The thing is the Supreme Court has given several final verdicts in the case. Every time after a final verdict comes, some State or the other has gone on appeal, and the Supreme Court accommodatingly gives one more final verdict.

But it is not the Supreme Court alone, the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal gave its final verdict in 2007 itself. (It was a remarkable decision, because for the first time it brought all the four parties (TN, Karnataka, Kerala, Pudhucherry) on the same page: All four of them went on appeal.)

Wait, again I can hear you scream and ask, what is the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal,  Cauvery River Water Authority, Cauvery Monitoring Committee, Cauvery Management Board that we keep hearing about quite regularly?

Cauvery Disputes Tribunal gave its verdict sometime in 2007, and when its order became unimplementable, the Cauvery River Water Authority was formed. But since it didn’t seem to serve any purpose, they got up Cauvery Monitoring Authority or some such.  This season, the flavour is the Cauvery Management Board.

Basically, the various Cauvery Committees/Boards are something the Centre and the apex court keep coming up for the administrative reason of passing the buck to somebody else.

The Central government may be reluctant to form the Cauvery Management Board now, but once it creates the Board, rest assured the Board will implement, in due course, something that may be called Cauvery Management Committee of the Monitoring Board.

Elsewhere, Vattal Nagaraj has now given a deadline to TN to end its protests over Cauvery. Failing which, we think, he will have no other go but to launch his own protests. And the likes of Bharathiraja and others will hopefully match him with their matching protests.

Which will be cue for, you guessed it right, the Supreme Court to give one more final verdict.

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