Published: Published Date – 11:47 PM, Tue – 15 March 22
By J R Janumpalli
The Ministry of Jal Shakti issued a gazette notification on July 15, which gives complete control of all projects in the basins of Godavari and Krishna in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) and the Godavari River Management Board (GRMB). The notification usurping all the rights of the two States came into effect from October 14. The protocols for the takeover are being worked out but there is not much headway because of the ill-conceived plan.
The Telangana Development Forum found it to be unconstitutional and anti-federal. It made a memorandum on it to the President and the Centre demanding immediate withdrawal of the draconian order.
There is not much of a problem in the Godavari basin since adequate water is available in the river, though taking over the projects there is a disagreeable invasion. But a virtual war is going on between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on sharing Krishna waters. It is a legacy of the erstwhile united AP. Telangana was unable to get its legitimate share, despite owning 68% of the catchment area of the Krishna basin.
The Bachawat Tribunal, KWDT1, in 1976, awarded 800 tmc to erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, which included the Telangana region. Later, the AP government in the united State divided that water into its three regions. This was felt to have been done arbitrarily without regard to the catchment and cultivable area, and the population, which were supposed to be the basic criteria for such a division. (see table)
The AP government then went into overutilisation of the surplus and floodwaters for the Andhra region with many non-statutory government orders. For that, the Srisailam reservoir has become a backyard water trough for Rayalaseema, making manipulations in the drawdown levels in the hydel project, in the name of drinking water to Chennai, Telugu Ganga project, Srisailam Right Bank Canal and all kinds of ‘srujala sravnthis’ to take Krishna water to irrigate the old Tungabhadra ayacut and also all the way to Penna basin areas, which are outside the Krishna basin.
Even before the water share of Telangana was used, Andhra and Rayalaseema utilised beyond their share, building reservoirs exceeding 200 tmc capacity to draw floodwaters from Srisailam via the ever-widening Pothireddi Padu Regulator (PPR). In the united State, it was an intra-State issue. The Telangana region did not have the right or opportunity to present its case in the Tribunal or to the Centre.
But even after Telangana State came into existence, the manipulation has continued. The PPR, which was originally designed for 11,000 cusecs, was increased to 44,000 cusecs before the merger. It has now been increased to 88,000 cusecs discharge capacity, to take water from the lowest level of the Srisailam project via its new controversial LI projects.
Another project is Pulichintala, constructed with 45 tmc capacity. The reservoir submerges 30,000 acres of Telangana lands but the ayacut is entirely in Andhra. Even in the Nagarjuna Sagar project, the ayacut, which was supposed to be 7.5 lakh acres for Andhra and Telangana each, ended up with more than 15 lakh acres to Andhra and 6-7 lakh acres to Telangana. The Jurala project in Mahabubnagar — which was allotted 19.11 tmc — ended up utilising 6-7 tmc only for irrigation. It is an accumulation of such inequitable utilisation of water in the Andhra region in between KDWTI award and before and after the bifurcation of the State with the GOs which have no statutory sanction that is considered illegal. The latest Rayalaseema LI scheme is the last straw.
Brijesh Kumar Tribunal
The Brijesh Kumar Tribunal, KWDT2, came into existence to review the shares of the Krishna riparian States as a continuation to KWDT1, in 2010. It was about to give its final award in 2013, but it was stayed because of the bifurcation. Telangana wanted the Centre to start the Tribunal proceeding afresh as it was not a party to the earlier KWDT1 and KWDT2 adjudications.
The KWDT2 was extended with the express purpose of review and redistribution of water between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and also to make project-wise specific allocation as per the provision in the AP Reorganization Act, 2014. It is based on the Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956, (IRWD Act), which says whenever the riparian States are not able to reach amicable agreements on their own on sharing of inter-State river waters, Section 4 of the IRWD Act provides a dispute resolution process in the form of a Tribunal. As per Section 5.2, the Tribunal shall not only adjudicate but also investigate the matters referred to it by the Centre and make suitable awards.
Telangana had requested the Centre to issue necessary terms of reference for the Tribunal to review the water shares and make project-wise specific allocations. It has also withdrawn the cases pending before the Supreme Court, as advised by the Centre, to facilitate the issue of terms of reference. But the Centre did not do so as promised by it. Instead, it has issued the GO to take over all projects.
The KWDT2 is still in office. Instead of referring the matter to the Tribunal in all seriousness, the Centre dodged the issue, indulging in ineffective Krishna river board meetings, wasting over seven years. It is a complex inter-State issue. There is no better way than the ongoing or new Tribunal to adjudicate for a long-lasting solution.
It is incomprehensible for the Centre to have stonewalled the issue for 7 years. And now it is indulging in an unconstitutional takeover of the projects in the two river basins. This is resulting in obstructing Telangana from completing the projects for the earlier unutilised share of its water and thwarting its bid for more allotment as a new State. It is clearly political discrimination.
The Centre should understand that now Telangana is a separate State and has the right to demand its fair share of river waters.
The author is a freelance journalist.
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