Water Stress in the Cauvery Basin, South India - How current water management approaches and allocation conflict constrain reform

  • Marius Ferdin (Autor/in)
  • Stefan Görlitz (Autor/in)
  • Steffen Schwörer (Autor/in)


This article presents insights on the state of water management in the Cauvery basin in South India and the ongoing interstate dispute concerning the allocation of the Cauvery's water between the riparian states Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. lack of multi-level, intersectoral, and participative approaches on the one hand have led to inadequate conditions in water management and water use. On the other hand, the conflict between the two states on water allocation cannot be resolved due to strong reluctance and non-compliance by the states and a highly politicized debate. We identify some clear correlations between inadequate internal water management at the state level and the interstate dispute: the ongoing conflict constraining modernization of the system in the basin is used to justify non-action in irrigation-management reform and ties up state resources as well. Additionally, the current water management approach does not provide for mechanism to address the concerns and demands of stakeholders, nor does it promote dialogue between them.