The fast approaching June 2 deadline for the bifurcation of the State notwithstanding, it is likely to take more time for amicably resolving the issues arising out of river water sharing between the two successor States - Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

The magnitude of the issue can be gauged from the fact that the award of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal – II headed by Justice Brijesh Kumar ran into controversy with the State opposing mechanism like distribution of surplus water among the riparian States. The Government filed a special leave petition in the apex court against the award and formal orders in this regard are awaited.

Allocation

The Brijesh Kumar Tribunal has allocated 811 tmcft of water to the State of which, 298 tmcft is expected to be allotted to Telangana, 145 tmcft for projects in Rayalaseema, and the balance 368 tmcft to coastal Andhra.

The State is expected to get additional 227 tmcft water, programmed as surplus, of which 77 tmcft has been allotted to Telangana and the rest distributed to Seemandhra projects. Allocation of surplus water among three States had turned contentious as the State hitherto enjoyed full rights on surplus water as the lower riparian State.

Experts’ take

Experts and officials alike do not rule out the scope for the new Government in Telangana to seek constitution of a new tribunal for sharing of allocated Krishna water between the successor States.

“The new Government can approach the court seeking award afresh as the present allocation is made for the united State. The Polavaram issue can also turn contentious if the new Government argues that it has some say in the allocation from the project,” Central Water Commissioner former member R. Vidyasagar Rao said.

While projects with assured allocation of water, particularly the ones constructed across Krishna, are unlikely to pose major problems, the projects purely based on the surplus waters are likely to turn contentious between the two States. There are seven projects in all – three in Telangana and four in Andhra Pradesh – based on surplus water and irrigation experts claim that there projects will not have legal sanctity unless they are taken into consideration by the tribunal for allocation of water.

Bone of contention

“These are projects without firm allocation. There was flexibility of ordering water releases for them if the State remains united, but the flexibility is unlikely once the State is divided,” a senior Irrigation official told The Hindu. River water sharing has been a bone of contention between Telangana and Seemandhra regions for long and this is considered to be among the main reasons for people seeking separation.

There is also ambiguity over the proposed board for overseeing release of water and the Apex Council whose permission will be mandatory for taking up new projects.

No independent decisions

“The two Governments cannot take independent decisions for taking up new projects unlike the present. Each issue has to be referred to the Apex Council that will in turn decide about the scope of the projects and allocate water,” Mr. Rao said.

Sharing of Godavari water, however, is seen to be a shade simpler in that the Telangana projects are allocated 900 tmcft and remaining 580 tmcft allocated to the Seemandhra projects. Problems, however, are likely to get compounded in the coming days as the scope for securing additional allocation from the two rivers is remote.

Project-wise allocations

Irrigation officials claim that the much of the difficulties could be addressed amicably in respect of river water sharing as allocations had already been made project-wise. Disputes, if any, could arise because of the surplus waters and these can be remedied if the controlling board strictly follows the release protocol to the satisfaction of the two sides.

“The silver lining in the entire exercise is that release of water will not be because of political compulsions and it will forthwith be on the basis of needs and merits,” a senior official summed up.