Information not forthcoming from Karnataka on Krishna water: Telangana, Andhra Pradesh

Krishna river. File | Photo Credit: V RAJU
Krishnadas Rajagopal NEW DELHI 29 November 2021 16:42 IST
Updated: 29 November 2021 16:48 IST

Need to harness it as a lot of it is ‘flowing down into the ocean’, Karnataka tells SC

Telangana and Andhra Pradesh submitted in the Supreme Court on Monday that there is no information forthcoming from Karnataka for the past 14 years about how much Krishna river water it has diverted.

In turn, Karnataka argued that a lot water is going waste —“flowing down into the ocean” — and there is a need to harness it for irrigation and to replenish dry regions.

Karnataka has sought the vacation of a November 16, 2011 of the Supreme Court which stopped the Centre from publishing in the Official Gazette the final order of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal II (KWDT) pronounced in December 2010, allocating the river water to Karnataka, erstwhile Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. The KWDT had further modified its final order and report on November 29, 2013 to allot surplus water to Karnataka, Maharashtra and the erstwhile State of Andhra Pradesh while preserving the allocation of 2130 TMC already made amongst them.


A necessary pre-condition

The publication of the order of the Tribunal is a necessary pre-condition for its implementation.

However, following the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, its successors Telangana and Andhra Pradesh had moved the Supreme Court challenging the KWDT’s allocation of shares.

Karnataka has argued that its dam and irrigation projects worth thousands of crores to provide water to its parched northern areas have been stalled for all these years because of the 2011 order of the Supreme Court to not publish the KWDT decisions in the Official Gazette under Section 6(1) of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act of 1956.

Karnataka has argued that the dispute raised by Andhra Pradesh and Telangana was between them and did not concern it. It referred to the Cauvery water dispute, in which the Supreme Court had, in February 2013, ordered the Centre to publish the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal award in the Official Gazette despite the pendency of the cases filed by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu against the Tribunal’s 2007 final order of allocation of water.

The Centre successfully sought two weeks time. A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud posted the case for December 13, but not before exclaiming that seven years have elapsed since the KWDT had pronounced its modified final report and order.

Issue of ‘grave urgency’

Senior advocates Shyam Divan and Mohan Katarki, for Karnataka, said the issue was of “grave urgency” as far as the State was concerned.

The KWDT II had allocated 166 TMC along with 7 TMC of minimum flow to Karnataka. Seven districts of the command area are severely drought prone. Four of the seven — Kalaburgi, Yadgir, Raichur and Koppal — are recognised as backward areas.

The State said the decision of the KWDT was enforceable only till 2050, after which it has to reviewed or revised. Ten years have already lapsed in litigation since 2010. Karnataka required at least 10 years to complete several irrigation projects whose costs were pegged at ₹60,000 crore in 2014-15. The costs would escalate annually by 10% to 15%. Even if the irrigation projects are completed in 10 years, the Central Water Commission clearances would take time.

“The life of the KWDT award is 40 years, out of which 10 years have already lapsed and 10 years is required to complete the work... As a result, Karnataka will not be in a position to utilise water 20 out of 40 years,” Karnataka said.