Karnataka seeks SC nod to utilise 75 TMC of Krishna river water for its drought-prone districts

The state urged the top court to modify its 2011 order restraining the publication of the award of the Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jan 11, 2023 | 12:41 AMUpdatedJan 11, 2023 | 12:42 AM

The water is needed to meet the agricultural requirements of five drought-prone districts. (Wikimedia Commons)

Karnataka on Tuesday, 10 January, urged the Supreme Court to modify its 16 September, 2011, order restraining the publication of the award of the Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal so that the state can draw 75 TMC of water.

The water is needed to meet the agricultural requirements, among others, of five drought-prone districts located under the Upper Krishna Project.

The case was being heard by a bench of Justices Surya Kant and V Ramasubramanian.

The need for water

Seeking the modification of the 2011 order, senior advocate Shyam Divan — appearing for the Karnataka government — told the bench that the water allocated to Karnataka for the Upper Krishna Project was 130 TMC, and that they are only asking for 75 TMC.

Divan said that it has been 10 years since the final report came out and, during this period, Karnataka spent ₹14,955 crore on creating a network of canals and pumping stations to augment the irrigation needs in the five districts.

He said that the release of this 75 TMC of water was intrinsically linked to the well-being of the people in this region.

Divan added that the state was not asking for the utilisation of more than 75 TMC of water as Karnataka did not have the infrastructure in the area to utilise more than that.

He reiterated that what the state was asking for was well within its allocated share of water.

Maharashtra is seeking the publication of the tribunal award as well.

Divan noted that the dispute between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on the sharing of water allocated to erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh could not come in the way of the publication of the award.

As Divan concluded his arguments, the bench asked him if the court could ask the Central government to publish the award whose implementation was “conditional” or “partial”.

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The Andhra Pradesh side of things

At the outset of the hearing, Andhra Pradesh opposed the hearing on the 2014 application by Maharashtra and the 2019 application of Karnataka, essentially seeking the publication of the award.

Senior advocate KV Viswanathan said that Andhra Pradesh was aggrieved with the award and was moving the apex court to challenge it.

Viswanathan told the court that Karnataka filed some documents on Monday evening, and if it wanted to rely on them in the course of advancing arguments, then Andhra Pradesh should get an opportunity to respond to them.

The bench told Divan that if he was relying on the documents filed an evening before, then Andhra Pradesh had to be given an opportunity to respond to them.

Divan said that he would skip those documents in his arguments.

Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are expected to advance their arguments on Wednesday. The court indicated that it would like to conclude the hearing on the same day.