States will get two years to arrive at sharing formula in consultation with Centre
The Centre will have the powers to step in to decide the sharing of water resources and assets in the river basins between Andhra Pradesh and proposed Telangana after the bifurcation, if the two are unable to do so through a mutual agreement within specified time.
A highly placed source told The Hindu that under the proposed law which is near finalisation, the Union government will have the power to draw up a water-sharing ratio and the power benefits from projects on the Krishna and Godavari basins to the two States.
If the two States, after the bifurcation, are unable to resolve sharing of utilisable water in the river basins within one year, the Centre will be empowered to take the decision unilaterally by the end of the second year. In the case of projects running in these basins, the States would get two years to arrive at the sharing formula in consultation with the Centre failing which, again the Union government would step in to do so unilaterally in the third year after creation of the State.
This would provide the way to resolve ownership and benefit-sharing issues that the Centre believes could emerge in case of large, controversial and on-going projects such as the multi-purpose Polavaram irrigation project.
The Centre also proposed to set up a river management board for which it will appoint a chairperson. The board will have one full-time member and two part-time members, nominated by the two States. The Centre will nominate two full-time members besides these.
The board will be funded by the two State governments on the basis of a formula that would be decided on the benefit-sharing ratios.
This board, source said, would regulate the implementation of the benefit-sharing agreement struck either between the States or by the Centre either on water supply or on power generated.
The board shall hold powers to regulate irrigation, water supply, hydro-power, navigation and terms of industrial use of river resources. The Centre, wishing to avoid any protracted battle between the two States over specific projects or critical water resources, has created space for itself to hold the veto in case dispute arises between the States on the powers of the board.
The sharing of water resources has been one of the most contentious points in the creation of the Telangana State and the Group of Ministers is still to decide the fate of Penner river, the source said. But, he said the water-resource sharing formula for the two basins was agreed to largely and should remain intact in the finalised Bill.