Eight farmers of Andhra Pradesh have moved the Supreme Court seeking an interim stay of the award of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal II permitting Karnataka to raise the height of the Alamatti dam from 519.6 m to 524.25 m.

Petitioners Devineni Umamaheswara Rao and seven others said in their special leave petition, filed by advocate Guntur Prabhakar, that “the KWDT has erred in permitting Karnataka to raise the height of the Alamatti dam from 519.6 m. to 524.25 m... which will adversely affect the timely flow of water to Andhra Pradesh and agriculture operations in the Krishna basin and entire ayacut of more than 35 lakh.”

According to the final award passed on November 29, Andhra Pradesh is entitled to get 1,005 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of water, Karnataka will get 907 tmcft and Maharashtra’s share is 666 tmcft. This award will be binding till 2050. The tribunal has asked the Centre to appoint a Krishna Water Decision Implementation Board, giving representation to Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh as well as the Centre.

The farmers said the tribunal failed to consider that with respect to the height of the Alamatti dam the Union government had appointed a high-powered committee comprising the Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Assam and the committee had recommended an height of 519.6 m only in order to protect the interests of the lower riparian State and the same was approved by this court in the suit filed by Andhra Pradesh. While so, allowing Karnataka to raise the height of the dam would be against the interests of the farmers of Andhra Pradesh, the petitioner said.

Questions raised

The SLP raised important questions of law: whether the decision and the final order of the KWDT – II is not contrary to the provisions of the Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956, particularly Sections 4 and 6 of the Act?; whether the tribunal has not exceeded its jurisdiction and terms of reference made on the complaints of the riparian States?; whether the tribunal is justified in adopting different dependability for arriving at availability of water in the Krishna for allocating water to riparian States contrary to well-established norms and principles of equitable allocation?; whether the tribunal is justified in permitting Karnataka to raise the height of the Alamatti dam detrimental to the rights and interests of farmers and residents of Andhra Pradesh?

They said the determination and allocation of alleged surplus water to an extent of 448 tmcft would severely affect more than 35 lakh acres spread over 14 districts in Andhra Pradesh. Further, the determination and allocation of the alleged surplus water by KWDT–II will make the projects water scarce . They sought a direction to stay the operation of the final order and to direct government of India not to publish the final order in the official gazette under the Interstate River Water Disputes Act.

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