At long last, the Union government has moved one step closer to solving the festering problem of allocation of Krishna river waters between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
The Union Cabinet, which met on Wednesday, 4 October, approved the terms of reference of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal which has jurisdiction over the deciding the allocation of Krishna waters between the two states.
Addressing the media after the Cabinet meeting, Union Minister Anurag Thakur said the tribunal will allocate water on a project-wise basis for projects in both states that are intended for developmental or future purposes.
“KWDT (Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal) will provide new terms of reference under which the tribunal will divide the water of the Krishna River between the two states. It will allocate water on a project-wise basis for the proposed projects in both states that are intended for developmental or future purposes,” Thakur said.
Harish Rao’s letter
On 11 July, Telangana Finance Minister T Harish Rao had made a representation to Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Shekhawat seeking early action on the constitution of a new tribunal.
He had reminded the Union minister that the apex committee, at its last meeting, had promised to resolve the issue of sharing the Krishna waters between the two states.
He had also sought an interim division of Krishna waters between the two states equally (50:50). He called on the Jal Shakti minister as he was in Delhi to attend to the GST Council meeting.
The decision on finalising the terms of reference for the tribunal to facilitate allocation of Krishna waters between the two states was apparently taken after Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-II chairman Justice Brijesh Kumar made it clear on 13 July that the tribunal that he was heading has no powers to make allocation of waters projects-wise in accordance with Section 89 of the AP State Reorganisation Act, 2014.
He made his point clear after Telangana insisted that the allocation of 299 mtcft water on a temporary basis was unjust and was in violation of the guidelines.
The dispute, in a nutshell
The dispute in the sharing of Krishna waters between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh has been defying a solution for decades.
It was one of the cardinal issues on which the Telangana movement for a separate state was built. The Telangana protagonists argued that injustice was done to Telangana region in the allocation of Krishna waters since the formation of the Andhra Pradesh state in 1956.
The Bachawat Tribunal, set up in 1969, allocated 811 tmct of dependable water to Andhra Pradesh, which was divided between Andhra and Telangana in the ration of 512: 299 tmcft after the creation of Telangana state in 2014.
Telangana cried foul, alleging that it was an unfair allocation to the state as it was based on outdated data.
The dispute, instead of abating, only became more intense with the two states going ahead with the construction of irrigation projects on the Krishna river without the consent of the other or the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB).
Neither state took serious notice of the KRMB’s notices to them for regulation of water use by the two riparian states.
The KRMB, constituted to implement the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal Award, could not bring about any understanding between the two states and, on the contrary, its decisions more often than not led to escalation of tensions between the two states.