A river in distress

A river in distress

Cauvery Dispute; Ecology and Environment


  1. The riverine ecosystem of the disputed Cauvery River is in a dismal state.


  1. The Cauvery River originates from Talakaveri in Kodagu district, Karnataka, flows into Tamil Nadu, and reaches the Bay of Bengal at Poompuhar.
  2. Parts of three Indian states – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka – and the Union Territory of puducherry lie in the Cauvery basin.
  3. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have been in a dispute for sharing of water of the Cauvery River

Major Environmental Issues:

Environmental IssueCauses
High temperature near the Source of the river1. Rapid decline in forest cover due to:

·         Conversion of forest land to coffee plantations

·         Developmental projects like construction of roads

·         Conversion of land for real estate

According to a 2009 report there has been 28% decline in forest cover since 1977

Declining flow of water in the Upstream1. Loss of forest cover

2. Change in land use from paddy cultivation to built ups (Paddy fields act as water sponges and help recharge groundwater aquifers)

3.  Loss of forest cover and change in land use have led to decline in rainfall

4. During poor monsoons, coffee plantations meet water demands by drawing water from the river

Overall decreased natural flow of water1. Unsustainable farming practices- Indiscriminate withdrawal of groundwater

2. Cultivation of water-intensive crop sugar cane in Cauvery-irrigated farm belts. Akravati, a major tributary of Cauvery has been completely dried up due to use of bore wells

3. Diversion of water into reservoirs by hydel power projects

Water Pollution1. Reduced flow of water

2. Pesticide and fertilizers runoff from agricultural fields

Salt-water intrusion near the mouth1. Destruction of natural sand-bars near the mouth

2. Excessive withdrawal of groundwater

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