Disputes, (de)Politicization and Democracy: Interstate Water Disputes in India

RULNR Working Paper
12 January 2012

Interstate water disputes in India often prolong over long periods and tend to recur. The Cauvery dispute tribunal was constituted in 1990 and the final award was given in 2007, after 17 years. The 2nd Krishna water dispute tribunal, constituted in 2004, gave its final award recently in December 2010. These long delays are partly due to elaborate judicial proceedings and deliberations. But more importantly, the adjudication proceedings are often circumvented and impeded by variety of political interests. The aleatory nature of politics reshapes the nature and extent of a dispute and contributes to its frequent recurrence. Discourses of policy and governance reforms usually do not account for this contingent nature of politics.