Centre told not to notify Brijesh Kumar Tribunal award till it clears special leave petition filed by AP

The interim order issued by the Supreme Court directing the Union government not to notify Brijesh Kumar Tribunal (BKT) award on Krishna waters for implementation till it clears the special leave petition (SLP) filed by Andhra Pradesh has come as a big relief for the State government here.

The order that came at a time when the BKT, is conducting hearing on petitions filed before it by the three riparian States -- Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh -- each ventilating a grouse against the award on one count or other, is being considered a morale booster.

According to observers, this would not have been possible but for two key decisions taken by Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy without much loss of time following the announcement of the award on December 30, 2010.

One decision was for filing an SLP in Supreme Court against the award. Opposition parties had cited “lack of effective presentation” of the State's case before the BKT by the legal team which was appointed by the Rajasekhara Reddy government, as a reason for the State's failure to secure full justice under the award. The Chief Minister ensured that this team was immediately strengthened with the induction of two of the best legal brains in the country -- K. Parasaran and Harish N. Salve -- to file the SLP before the apex court.

Irrigation officials are upbeat over the Supreme Court order.

They are optimistic now about a positive outcome from the BKT too. They refer to a petition filed before it by the Union Water Resources Ministry also, raising pertinent questions about the formula BKT had adopted to assess the annual water availability in the Krishna river at 65 per cent dependability, taking the wet series for 48 years only instead of making an overall reckoning for 100 years at 75 per cent dependability as per the standard practice followed all over the globe.

In its petition, the Ministry contended that the BKT had overstepped the powers of the executive by including a provision in its award for appointment of a body to implement its decisions.

Three points

The arguments by Andhra Pradesh before the tribunal and the apex court centre around three additional points also. Firstly, the BKT had opened several “settled issues” under Bachawat Tribunal Award, including allocation of the river's surplus waters to AP. While apportioning water, it had ignored the State's plea to treat Mahabubnagar and Anantapur districts as drought-prone but considered similar requests from Maharashtra and Karnataka. The BKT had not tackled the “basin deficiencies” such as lack of inflows from catchment within the State, it rues.

  • Irrigation officials are optimistic now about a positive outcome from the BKT too
  • Legal team strengthened with induction of K. Parasaran and Harish N. Salve to file the SLP