Come June-end and Tamil Nadu is faced with the unenviable task of dealing with the Cauvery water dispute.
As per the recommendation of a judicial tribunal appointed by the Centre under the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, Karnataka has to release 205 TMC of Cauvery waters annually to Tamil Nadu (and 5 TMC each for Kerala and Pondicherry) and it is the task of the Cauvery Water Authority to ensure compliance.
The CWA was formed in 1996 on the advice of the Supreme Court, after the previous Jayalalithaa government sought directions to the Centre on implementation of the interim award of the judicial tribunal.
However, this year, the Karnataka government has expressed its inability to release the waters owing to inadequate storage in reservoirs serviced by the Cauvery waters due to the delayed monsoon.
As a result, the Mettur reservoir, which receives the Cauvery waters from Karnataka, is running dry for the first time in a decade forcing the Tamil Nadu government to give up all hopes of releasing water for farmers in Thanjavur on June 12, the usual date.
Thanjavur lies in the Cauvery delta belt, which has been fed by the Cauvery river for centuries before Karnataka took an interest in damming it.
Aware of the emotive appeal of the issue, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa hit out at Karnataka with the vehemence characteristic of her Cauvery policy when in power.
In 1993, she had gone on a fast, which had sparked off unprecedented anti-Tamil violence in Karnataka, to press her point.
This time round, she shepherded the state cabinet into deciding against Tamil Nadu's continuance in the CWA, chaired by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The state also plans to move the Supreme Court all over again. Earlier, a pending petition had been withdrawn by the erstwhile DMK regime.
The political posturing could do better than a court verdict, which may not be timely - as past events have proved.
Yet, most political parties in the state argue that over-reaction would do no good for farmers, who have been shifting from paddy cultivation to private enterprise.
The dispute dates back to 1974 when a 50-year-old agreement with the former princely state of Mysore, now Karnataka, came up for review.
Successive state governments in Tamil Nadu, including those under President's rule, had usually cajoled Karnataka into releasing the waters.
While the basic dispute pertained to the interpretation of the 'review' clause in the 1924 agreement, the current focus is on the much-awaited final award of the Cauvery waters tribunal, which is expected in about a few months' time.
While Karnataka has been saying that the 'review' relates to the original accord, Tamil Nadu insists it relates to the quantum of rain and annual inflows, which had not been recorded earlier.
Now, both are clashing in the context of the interim award, with Tamil Nadu seeking enforcement and Karnataka pleading helplessness.
While Karnataka is anxious that the final award might increase the outgo beyond the 205 TMC awarded in the interim report, Tamil Nadu feels that an enforcement clause is necessary.
Some days back, Jayalalithaa took her Cabinet to Thanjavur and offered a relief package totalling Rs 1.64 billion (Rs 164 crore) to the farmers while deriding Karnataka for denying Tamil Nadu its due share of Cauvery waters.
At the same time, Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna took the initiative to write to her detailing his state's purported inability to release the assigned amount of water.
However, Tamil Nadu doubts the claims made by Karnataka about the storage capacity of the reservoirs serviced by the Cauvery.
Thought both states want a permanent solution to this dispute, mutual suspicion has hampered efforts to adopt a scientific approach to the issue.
Both states are also unanimous on building an additional reservoir to tap the water that now flows into the Bay of Bengal, but differ on its location.
Who will bell the cat - the tribunal, the Cauvery Water Authority or the Supreme Court - remains to be seen.
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