Court: do not publish KWDT-II decision

The Supreme Court on Friday restrained the Centre from publishing the decision of Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-II on allocation of waters among Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

As per the Tribunal award submitted in December last, Andhra Pradesh will get 1,001 tmcft, Karnataka 911 tmcft and Maharashtra 666 tmcft.

Interim orders

Passing interim orders on a special leave petition filed by Andhra Pradesh assailing the award, a Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and R.M. Lodha, however, declined to stay the Tribunal report and order. It also refused to stay the proceedings pending before the Tribunal seeking explanation and guidance.

Andhra Pradesh said the findings recorded on the yield of water at various dependabilities were in violation of the principles of natural justice, and contrary to the established judicial procedure and settled principles in determining the yield of river and the length of series of years.

“The decision of KWDT-II has resulted in an anomalous situation as it has taken into account the wettest period in the basin, leading to boosting of the yield.

Inflated figures

Further, it ought not to have considered the inflated utilisation figures of Maharashtra and Karnataka for 2006-07 and 2007-08 for computing the yield series which was furnished after the completion of evidence.”

The SLP said: “KWDT-II ought to have considered that providing drinking water to needy areas is part of right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.” The National Water Policy also required that drinking water be assured at 100 per cent dependability.

“The various demands projected by Andhra Pradesh include a demand for drinking water. Non-consideration of the demands vitiates the equitable allocation made by KWDT-II.”

For, drinking water should be accessible at places where there was a dire requirement as these areas were either drought or fluoride affected and had no resource except the surface flows of the Krishna.

Questions raised

The SLP raised important questions of law: Has the tribunal applied the acknowledged principles of distribution and allocation based on an equitable share for all the States including Andhra Pradesh? Hasn't KWDT-II acted without jurisdiction and contrary to law in arriving at the quantum of water at various dependabilities for distribution? Hasn't KWDT-II failed to bear in mind that dependability cannot vary for different purposes and that it is only one dependability which has to be adjudged in determining the quantum of water for any of the purposes? Has not KWDT-II committed fundamental errors in not going to the root of the matter and in its failure to approach several questions which arose for decision from a correct perspective?

Senior counsel K. Parasaran appeared for Andhra Pradesh, senior counsel Anil Divan and counsel Mohan Katarki for Karnataka, and senior counsel T.R. Andhyarujina for Maharashtra.