Updated: September 7, 2019 9:13:56 pm
The Krishna river dispute took a new turn this week, when Maharashtra and Karnataka Chief Ministers Devendra Fadnavis and B S Yediyurappa agreed to jointly oppose Andhra Pradesh’s application seeking a relook at the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal’s 2010 order on water distribution between the riparian states.
What is the Krishna river dispute, and what has been done to resolve it?
The Krishna is an east-flowing river that originates at Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra and merges with the Bay of Bengal, flowing through Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Together with its tributaries, it forms a vast basin that covers 33% of the total area of the four states.
A dispute over the sharing of Krishna waters has been ongoing for many decades, beginning with the erstwhile Hyderabad and Mysore states, and later continuing between successors Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
In 1969, the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) was set up under the Inter-State River Water Dispute Act, 1956, and presented its report in 1973. The report, which was published in 1976, divided the 2060 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of Krishna water at 75 per cent dependability into three parts: 560 TMC for Maharashtra, 700 TMC for Karnataka and 800 TMC for Andhra Pradesh. At the same time, it was stipulated that the KWDT order may be reviewed or revised by a competent authority or tribunal any time after May 31, 2000.
Afterward, as new grievances arose between the states, the second KWDT was instituted in 2004. It delivered its report in 2010, which made allocations of the Krishna water at 65 per cent dependability and for surplus flows as follows: 81 TMC for Maharashtra, 177 TMC for Karnataka, and 190 TMC for Andhra Pradesh.
After the KWDT’s 2010 report
Soon after the 2010 report was presented, Andhra Pradesh challenged it through a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court in 2011. In an order in the same year, the apex court stopped the Centre from publishing it in the official Gazette.
In 2013, the KWDT issued a ‘further report’, which was again challenged by Andhra Pradesh in the Supreme Court in 2014. After the creation of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh in 2014, the Water Resources Ministry has been extending the duration of the KWDT.
Andhra Pradesh has since asked that Telangana be included as a separate party at the KWDT and that the allocation of Krishna waters be reworked among four states, instead of three. It is relying on Section 89 of The Andhra Pradesh State Reorganisation Act, 2014, which reads:
“89. The term of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal shall be extended with the following terms of reference, namely:
(a) shall make project-wise specific allocation, if such allocation has not been made by a Tribunal constituted under the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956;
(b) shall determine an operational protocol for project-wise release of water in the event of deficit flows.
Explanation.–– For the purposes of this section, it is clarified that the project-specific awards already made by the Tribunal on or before the appointed day shall be binding on the successor States.”
Maharashtra and Karnataka are now resisting this move. On September 3, the two states said: “Telangana was created following bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Therefore, allocation of water should be from Andhra Pradesh’s share which was approved by the tribunal.”
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