Everything you need to know about Cauvery River and it’s Dispute (Part-1)

Everthing you need to know about Cauvery River Dispute

Kaveri which is anglicized as Cauvery is the third largest river in South India after River Godavari and Krishna.

Geography around Cauvery

The River Cauvery originates at Talakaveri in Coorg District of Karnataka in Brahmagiri Range of hills located in the Western Ghats at an elevation of 1341 m. above mean sea level and drains a total area of 81,155 Sq.Kms. of which 34,273 Sq.Kms lies in Karnataka, 43856 Sq.Kms. in Tamilnadu, 2866 Sq.Kms. in Kerala and 160 Sq.Kms in Union Territory of Puducherry. The Cauvery basin is bounded by Tungabhadra sub-basin of Krishna basin on the Northern side and Palar basin on the Southern side. The Western Ghats form the Western boundary. The Nilgiris, an offshore of Western Ghats, extend Eastwards to the Eastern Ghats and divide the basin into two natural and political regions i.e., Karnataka plateau in the North and the Tamilnadu plateau in the South. In Tamilnadu, the Eastern part of the basin is in the elevation range of 0 to 150 m sloping gently up from the sea.

At Shivanasamudram, the river branches off into two parts and falls through a height of 91 m. in a series of falls and rapids. The falls at this point is utilised for power generation. The power station at Shivanasamudram was built as early as 1902. The two branches of the river join after the fall and flow through a wide gorge which is known as “Mekedatu”(Goats leap) and continues its journey to form the boundary between Karnataka and Tamilnadu States for a distance of 64 Kms. At Hogennekkal Falls, it takes Southernly direction and enters the Mettur Reservoir which was constructed in 1934. A tributary called Bhavani joins Cauvery on the Right bank about 45 Kms below Mettur Reservoir. Thereafter it takes Eastern course to enter the plains of Tamilnadu. Two more tributaries Noyil and Amaravathi join on the right bank and here the river widens with sandy bed and flows as “Akhanda Cauvery”.

Immediately after crossing Tiruchirapalli district, the river divides into two parts, the Northern branch being called “The Coleron” and Southern branch remains as Cauvery and from here the Cauvery Delta begins. After flowing for about 16 Kms, the two branches join again to form “Srirangam Island”. On the Cauvery branch lies the “Grand Anicut” said to have been constructed by a Chola King in 1st Century A.D. Below the Grand Anicut, the Cauvery branch splits into two, Cauvery and Vennar. These branches divide and sub-divide into small branches and form a network all over the delta.

The total length of the river from the origin to its outfall into the sea is 800 Kms. of which 320 Kms.is in Karnataka,416 Kms.in Tamilnadu and 64 Kms. forms the common border between the Karnataka and Tamilnadu states. The Cauvery basin is fan-shaped in Karnataka and leaf-shaped in Tamilnadu. The run-off does not drain off quickly because of its shape and therefore no fast raising floods occur in the basin.  The basin receives rainfall mainly from the S-W Monsoon and partially from N-E Monsoon in the Karnataka. The basin in Tamilnadu depends on the North-East Monsoon.

Soil Types and Cultivation

Physiographically, the basin can be divided into three parts – the Westen Ghats, the Plateau of Mysore and the Delta. The delta area is the most fertile tract in the basin. The principal soil types found in the basin are black soils, red soils, laterites, alluvial soils, forest soils and mixed soils. Red soils occupy large areas in the basin. Alluvial soils are found in the delta areas. The culturable area of the basin is about 5.8 M. ha which is about 3% of the culturable area of the country.

Urban Centres and Industries around Basin

The city of Bangalore is situated just outside this basin. Important industries in the basin include cotton textile industry in Coimbatore and Mysore, cement factories in Coimbatore and Tiruchirappalli and industries based on mineral and metals. The Salem steel plant and many engineering industries in Coimbatore and Tiruchirappalli are also situated in this basin.



1. Centre for Coastal Zone Management and Coastal Shelter Belt

2. WRIS India – Cauvery

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