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General Studies 2 >> Polity




1. Context

The nagging dispute over the water share of the Krishna River between Andhra Pradesh (A.P.) and Telangana remains unresolved, even nine years after the bifurcation of the combined State.
Krishna Water Dispute | 13 Jan 2022

2. What is the origin of the Krishna water dispute?

  • The dispute dates back to the formation of Andhra Pradesh in November 1956.
  • Before the formation of Andhra Pradesh, four senior leaders each from different regions of Andhra, including the Rayalaseema Region and the Telangana Region signed a Gentlemen’s Agreement on February 20, 1956.
  • Among others, one of the provisions of the agreement was the protection of Telangana’s interests and needs with respect to the utilization of water resources with equitable distribution based on treaties followed globally.
  • However, the focus of the combined dispensation with respect to irrigation facilities was on Andhra, which already had systems developed by the British at the cost of in­basin drought­prone areas in Telangana a fact which was argued by the leaders of the latter region from the beginning.
  • Further on, in 1969, the Bachawat Tribunal (KWDT­I) was constituted to settle the dispute around water share among the riparian States of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh (before bifurcation).

3. Allocation of water resources by Tribunal

  • The Tribunal allocated 811 tmcft of dependable water to Andhra Pradesh. The A.P. government later apportioned it in the 512:299 tmcft ratio between Andhra (including parts of Rayalaseema which comprise the Krishna Basin) and Telangana, respectively, based on the command area developed or utilization mechanism established by then.
  • The Tribunal had also recommended taking the Tungabhadra Dam ( a part of the Krishna Basin) water to the drought­prone Mahabubnagar area of Telangana.
  • However, this was not followed through, giving birth to discontent among the people. Telangana had time and again reiterated how it had been meted out with injustice in Andhra Pradesh when it came to the matter of distributing water resources.

4. What was the arrangement for water sharing after the bifurcation?

  • There is no mention of water shares in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, since the KWDT­I Award, which was still in force, had not made any region­wise allocation.
  • At a meeting convened by the then Ministry of Water Resources in 2015, the two States had agreed for sharing water in the 34:66 (Telangana: A.P.) ratio as an ad hoc arrangement with the minutes clearly specifying that it has to be reviewed every year.
  • The arrangement in the Act was only for the management of water resources by setting up two Boards, the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) and the Godavari River Management Board (GRMB).

5. Present dispute and latest developments

  • The recent dispute arose when Telangana ordered the generation of hydel power up to 100% installed capacity, leading to concerns about water availability for Andhra Pradesh’s drinking and irrigation purposes.
  • The Ministry of Jal Shakti communicated with TSGENCO, urging them to follow the water release orders issued by the KRMB. However, Telangana continued to generate hydel power, leading to further tensions.

6. Claims of the two states

  • Telangana has been asking the center to finalize water shares from day one of its formations. Citing treaties and agreements followed globally in sharing river waters, Telangana has been arguing that as per the basin parameters, it is entitled to at least a 70% share in the allocation of the 811 tmcft.
  • Besides, it has been highlighting how A.P. has been diverting about 300 tmcft of water to the areas outside the basin from fluoride-affected and drought-prone areas within the basin in Telangana.
  • On the other hand A.P. has also been staking claim for a higher share of water to project the interests of command areas already developed.

7. Stand of the Center

  • The Center convened two meetings of the Apex Council comprising the Union Minister and Chief Ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in 2016 and 2020 without making any attempt to deal with the issue.
  • Following a suggestion made by the MoJS in 2020, Telangana has withdrawn its petition over the issue in the Supreme Court as the Ministry had assured to refer the matter of water shares to a Tribunal.
  • However, the Centre has been sitting over the issue for over two years now even as the two states continue to spar over the matter in and day out.

8. About Krishna River

  • The Krishna is an east-flowing river. It Originates at Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra and merges with the Bay of Bengal Flows 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. The principal tributaries joining Krishna are the Ghataprabha, the Malaprabha, the Bhima, the Tungabhadra, and the Musi.
  • Most of this basin comprises a rolling and undulating country, except for the western border, which is formed by an unbroken line of the Western Ghats.
  • The important soil types found in the basin are black soils, red soils, laterite and lateritic soils, alluvium, mixed soils, red and black soils, and saline and alkaline soils.
  • Right bank: Venna, Koyna, Panchganga, Dudhganga, Ghataprabha, Malaprabha, and Tungabhadra are the major right-bank tributaries.
  • Left Bank: Bhima, Dindi, Peddavagu, Halia, Musi, Paleru, and Munneru are the major left-bank tributaries.
  • Almatti Dam, Srisailam Dam, Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, and Prakasham Barrage are some of the major dams constructed on the river.

9. Constitutional Provisions

  • Entry 17 of the State List deals with water i.e., water supply, irrigation, canal, drainage, embankments, and water storage and waterpower.
  • Entry 56 of the Union List empowers the Union Government for the regulation and development of inter-state rivers and river valleys.
Article 262
Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution, or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-State River or river valley.
Parliament may, by law provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint as mentioned above.
10. Laws Enacted by the Parliament under Article 262

10.1 River Board Act, 1956:

  • Purpose: To enable the Union Government to create Boards for Interstate Rivers and river valleys in consultation with State Governments.
  • The objective of Boards is to advise on the inter-state basin to prepare development schemes and to prevent the emergence of conflicts.
  • Till date, no river board as per the above Act has been created.

10.2 Inter-State Water Dispute Act, 1956:

  • When a State Government makes a request regarding a water dispute and the Central Government is of the opinion that it cannot be resolved by negotiation, a Water Disputes Tribunal is constituted to adjudicate the dispute.
  • The act was amended in 2002, to include the major recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission. The amendments mandated a one-year time frame to set up the water disputes tribunal and also a 3-year time frame to give a decision.
For Prelims: Krishna water dispute, Krishna River Management Board (KRMB), the Godavari River Management Board (GRMB), Inter-State Water Dispute Act, 1956, River Board Act, 1956, Article 262, Almatti Dam, Srisailam Dam, Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, and Prakasham Barrage, Tributaries of Krishna and Tributaries of Godavari.

Previous year Questions

1. Consider the following statements: (MPSC 2017)
1. According to Article 262 of the Indian Constitution, the Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of interstate river water disputes.
2. Article 262 empowers the President of India to set up an interstate river water dispute tribunal.
Select the incorrect statements
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both 1 and 2
D. Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: B
2. Consider the following statements: (MPSC 2018)
(a) Article 262 (2) of the Indian Constitution empowers Parliament to enact provisions barring the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court or other courts relating to water disputes of inter-state rivers.
(b) The Supreme Court verdict on the Cauvery Water dispute of 16th February 2018 expanded the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court (by giving a re-interpretation of Article 136).
Select the correct option
A. Both statements are correct
B. Only the statement (a) is correct
C. Both statements are false
D. Only the statement (b) is correct
Answer: A
 Source: The Hindu

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