Both the Telangana and the Andhra Pradesh governments feel that they have a strong legal ground in support of their respective stands on the ongoing tussle between the two over the usage of Krishna River water from Srisailam project.
Telangana State claimed that the Krishna River Water Management Board (KRMB) had stepped out of its jurisdiction on October 31. The board had directed the Telangana government restricting power generation at Srisailam Left Bank Canal (SLBC) by using a maximum of 3 TMC of water till November 2.
Speaking to The Hans India, the Telangana State Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao said that allocation of water came under the preview of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal and it was beyond the jurisdiction of the board.
But, Andhra Pradesh State Irrigation Minister Deveineni Uma Maheswara Rao said the KRMB directive had legal sanctity under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act and hoped that the Telangana State would implement the board’s directive.
Andhra Pradesh is expecting that its counterpart would comply with the board’s order since it is included in the Para 9 under Schedule IX of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act. The said proviso empowers the Central government to impose penalty if either of the States fail to comply with the board’s order, a senior irrigation officials of AP said.
Countering this stand, Harish Rao pointed out several flaws in the board’s order. First, it has no jurisdiction in allocation of water under a particular project as it was the business of the Water Tribunal. Secondly, calling the board’s order vague, he said that it had allowed generating power till November 2 by using a maximum 3 tmc ft of water. At the same time, it didn’t say anything as to what would happen beyond that date. The board had only said the issue could be discussed again by meeting on November 15, he added.
He further clarified, “I am meeting Union Water Minister Uma Bharathi on Monday morning to complain about the injustice meted to Telangana in the wake of the KRMB’s directive. First, we want to complain to the Apex Council headed by the Union Water Minister. If we don’t get justice there too, then we will have to choose the legal course of action as a last resort to protect the interests of Telangana.”
While the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal has come into existence under Inter State Water Disputes Act of 1956, the KRMB has come into existence following the enactment of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014.
Speaking to the Hans India, the Brahmaputra Board Chairman CK Agarwal said each river board had been constituted with specific terms of reference to deal with and the Krishna River Management Board was different from the Brahmaputra Board with regard to tasks that they were assigned to handle.”
When asked if both the Acts had the same footing in the eye of law, Goa State Advocate General A N S Nadakarni told The Hans India, “Both the laws prevail. In case of interstate dispute, it is the Water Dispute Tribunal that takes the call. And in case of issues pertaining to the water disputes within a State, it is the River Management Board that handles it.”But, the AP Irrigation Minister says that the KRMB is a legal part of the AP Reorganisation Act and it has jurisdiction over regulating water usage of both the States and its direction should be complied with.
However, his counterpart points out that the board had acted unjustly and under pressure. It had reacted to a complaint without a signature made by the AP government within 24 hours, and had given its direction to Telangana within 48 hours.
BJP floor leader in Telangana Assembly Dr K Lashman said Telangan should not go with a confrontation mode. There is Union Water Ministry, CWC and the Prime Minister to resolve the contentious issue amicably. Going to court should be the last resort, he added. He further cautioned the Telangana government that its own actions should not set a troubled precedent against the State’s irrigation interests in the long run. Any hasty decision might give scope to the upper riparian states to interfere in Telangana State’s irrigation issues in future, he warned.