Cauvery Water Crisis


The Kaveri (Cauvery) is a long and large Indian river and the basin of Cauvery is estimated to be 81, 155 The river covers the four states are Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Pondicherry. Cauvery provides water for irrigation, water for household consumption and the generation of electricity.

Location of Cauvery Water Crisis

Location of Cauvery Water Crisis

Location of Cauvery Water Crisis

Basin and drought area is covered by states

Table shows Basin and drought area is covered by states

Table shows Basin and drought area is covered by states

Tamil Nadu





Basin Area (in km²)

44,016 (54%)

34,273 (42%)

2,866 (3.5%)



Drought area in the basin (in km²) 

12,790 (36.9%)

21,870 (63.1%)


Share for each state as per tribunal verdict of 2007 

419 (58%)

270 (37%)

30 (4%)

7 (1%)


 History of Dispute

  • Cauvery River is been in the disputes from the British period and is still in the disputes. There is always the fight for the water between the two states Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
  • The Cauvery upper hilly area lies in Karnataka and Kerala. This area is depended on south-west monsoon.
  • Its lower part lies in Tamil Nadu and this region is depended on Northeast monsoon that is in October to December.
  • Pondicherry wants its share in the river Cauvery because the river flows into the Bay of Bengal. In addition, Kerala has more water than it can possibly utilize.

How Old Is The Dispute Of Cauvery?

  • The dispute over sharing the river’s water goes back to the British era, when the Madras Presidency and then Mysore state (Karnataka) signed an agreement on the sharing of the river’s waters in 1924.
  • This agreement was signed for 50 years but just after the independence both the states started disagreeing the terms.
  • They started to fight on the largest area to be captured in their laps.
Location of Old Is The Dispute Of Cauvery

Location of Old Is The Dispute Of Cauvery

Location of Old Is The Dispute Of Cauvery

Cauvery Case with Complete Details 


  • After 12 years of independence, Karnataka approached Tamil Nadu for the settlement of disputes and Karnataka brought up some old arrangements to the Tamil Nadu government.
  • Tamil Nadu did not agree and recommended that changes be made after completion of new agreement.


  • After years of stalemate, a three-man tribunal was constituted. This was after the Supreme Court directed the then VP Singh-led government to constitute a tribunal for all the concerned disputes. 
  • Karnataka claimed 465 tmc ft. as its share before the tribunal, while Tamil Nadu demanded that the waters should be shared according to the original agreement. According to Tamil Nadu’s demand, it was entitled to 566 tmc ft. along with Pondicherry, while Karnataka was entitled to 177 tmc ft. and Kerala to only 5 tmc ft. In their separate presentations in front of the tribunal, Kerala demanded 99.8 tmc ft. and Pondicherry 9.3 tmc ft. 


  • In its June interim order, the tribunal awarded 205 tmc of water to Tamil Nadu, which Karnataka would have to release annually.
  • Further, the award also set down the weekly and monthly flows, which were to be ensured by Karnataka for every month of the annual period.
  • The award was upheld despite Karnataka’s protests. Violence broke out because of the award in the state.


  • In 2002 monsoon failed in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Distress was shared between both the states again.
  • Tamil Nadu demanded the honoring of its share but Karnataka stated that the water level would not allow them to fulfill even their needs.


  • The Cauvery water disputes tribunal announced its final verdict on 5 February 2007.
  • The Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, unhappy with the decision, filed a revision petition before the tribunal seeking review.


  • On 5 September 2016, Supreme Court ordered the Karnataka government to release 15,000 cusecs of water per day to Tamil Nadu.
  • On September 12, the Supreme Court modified its order, and asked Karnataka government to release 12000 cusecs of water on a daily basis till September 20 2016.  

- Published/Last Modified on: September 29, 2016