'Maharashtra and Karnataka, unlike A.P., strengthened their major projects and built small ones’

Andhra Pradesh has conceded substantial ground to Maharashtra and Karnataka in the battle over the Krishna waters, but it still can get the injustice undone to some extent by substantiating its arguments in a Special Leave Petition pending in the Supreme Court.

It may also approach the Board, which Justice Brijesh Kumar had proposed, for ensuring optimum utilisation of the river water, said Akkineni Bhavani Prasad, founder of the Consortium of Indian Farmers’ Associations (CIFA).

“We can store up to 700 tmcft in the projects available with us, and that should be sufficient if the water is judiciously used for only irrigation purpose,” opined former Rajya Sabha member and farmer leader Yelamnchili Sivaji.

The State government, instead of concentrating on looking for alternative sources of power generation, was squandering away precious water, letting it into sea by producing power.

“The coming days will be more difficult for irrigation water, and authorities must learn to use it properly and maintain canal systems properly,” he added.

The Krishna River Authority should be constituted with magisterial powers so that none of the States violated the allocations, he said.

The Brijesh Kumar Tribunal (BKT) allocated about 2,530 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of the river water to Maharashtra, Karnataka and A.P. on the basis of “first in use, first in right,” which was the internationally accepted norm and the irrigation potential of projects that existed at the time of the first tribunal headed by Justice R.S. Bachawat, said Mr. Bhavani Prasad.

Being the lower riparian State, Andhra Pradesh. will suffer the most during the river’s lean flow period. It is mainly the surplus waters that are planned to be usurped, as Andhra Pradesh is allowed to utilise the excess, but not claim right over it, he pointed out.

In 1969-70, the Bachawat Tribunal allocated 2,130 tmcft at 75 per cent dependability of the river’s annual flow along with regenerated and return flows. The string of projects taken up under the much-hyped ‘Jalayagnam’ came long after the term of the Bachawat Tribunal expired in 2000. Projects that existed in A.P. during that period would have mattered, he said.

BKT was mandated to only allocate any additional availability of the river water, which it did by fixing dependability at 10 per cent less (65 per cent). The Bachawat award could not be modified as it formed the very basis of adjudication of the dispute over sharing Krishna waters, he said.

Mr. Bhavani Prasad said the upper riparian States of Maharashtra and Karnataka had the requisite operational plans for their projects and did not squander the slightest of opportunity to impound even a single tmcft of water.

No major project came up in Andhra Pradesh after Nagarjuna Sagar was constructed while Maharashtra and Karnataka meticulously ‘strengthened’ their major projects and built 13 small ones in blatant violation of norms. These projects have a storage capacity of 2 tmct to 3 tmcft each, but put together they robbed A.P of around 40 tmcft.

Our State did not have a proper action plan and it continues to be torn apart by the eternal political rivalry, he said.

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