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Indian farmers bury themselves in sand over river water dispute

Published: April 6, 2018

STORY: Farmers in India’s southern Tiruchirappalli city buried themselves neck-deep in sand on the banks of Cauvery river on Friday (April 06) to protest the delay in constitution of a board by the federal government that would have ensured timely release of water to Tamil Nadu state.

On February 16, the Supreme Court directed federal government to constitute the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) within six weeks. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government missed the March 29 deadline, prompting Tamil Nadu to file a contempt plea against it for its “wilful disobedience” of the court’s order. The plea will be heard on April 09.

The water of Cauvery river has been the source of more than a century of tension between the southern states of Karnataka – from where it originates, and Tamil Nadu – the basin state. A protester, Chellaperumal, alleged the government had delayed the formation of CMB in view of upcoming assembly elections in Kerala (due in May). Our farmers have no water for drinking or agriculture, he added, as he broke down.

In 2016, an interim Supreme Court order which directed Karnataka to release 12,000 cubic feet of water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu sparked violent protests in Bengaluru. Disputes over water resources are common in India, where rising demand and poor management of supplies often lead to angry protests.

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