PNS | Vijayawada
The Andhra Pradesh (AP) government has taken legal action against the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal’s new terms of reference in the ongoing water dispute with Telangana. AP is seeking Supreme Court intervention to amend these terms and protect its interests in Krishna River water allocation.
This move by AP is a response to unfavourable central government decisions. The state has filed a petition challenging these decisions, which the Supreme Court has accepted.
Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy is determined to protect the state’s water rights and has sought support from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
This action comes after the Central Hydropower Department issued new guidelines for the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal (KWDT-2).
The new terms of reference pertain to the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT)-2, presided over by Justice Brijesh Kumar. KWDT-2 is responsible for reallocating the 811 TMC of water initially allocated to united Andhra Pradesh by KWDT-1 (Bachawat Tribunal).
The Godavari Tribunal has directed that the 45 TMC allocated to united Andhra Pradesh be distributed between the two states based on their respective projects.
This development is rooted in Section-89 of the Partition Act, which defines criteria for projects, whether completed, under construction, or in the proposal stage. KWDT-2 must investigate water allocations following these guidelines, with a report due by March 31, 2024, as per the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act-1956, Section-5(3). Anand Mohan, Joint Secretary of the Central Water Power Department, issued these orders (Gazette No. 4204).
Telangana initiated this action in 2014 by filing a complaint under Section-3, seeking a fair distribution of Krishna waters. The Union Cabinet approved additional procedures proposed by the Central Water Power Department for KWDT-2, resulting in the issuance of the mentioned orders. As a result, the distribution of Krishna water has become a focal point. Revisiting Bachawat Tribunal decisions has faced opposition since the ISRWD Act-1956 deems it illegal to re-examine settled water disputes, similar to Supreme Court verdicts. Nevertheless, the Central Jal Shakti Department directed the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal to review and redistribute water allocations.
A key aspect of the dispute is the diversion of 80 TMC to the Krishna Delta through the Polavaram Right Canal and an additional 45 TMC of Krishna waters upstream of Nagarjunasagar, permitted by the Godavari Tribunal. The tribunal also mandated that basins receiving Godavari waters should share the additional resources. Notably, Telangana has been diverting 240 TMC of Godavari water to the Krishna basin, although this wasn’t explicitly included in the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal’s terms of reference.
Established in 2004, the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal has been addressing this protracted water dispute and has submitted reports over the years. The Centre can dissolve the Tribunal under Section-12 if its objectives are met, but if not, it can prescribe additional procedures and request a re-investigation within three months of the next report. This ongoing dispute highlights the complexity and sensitivity of river water allocation between States, presenting a significant challenge in resolving such contentious issues.