Hyderabad/Bengaluru: A tribunal to decide the fair allocation of waters of the river Krishna turned down on Wednesday demands for redistribution among the four states served by the river.
The rejection by the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal II came as a setback for the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana which wanted redistribution on the basis of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.
The tribunal, headed by Justice Brijesh Kumar, made it clear that the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, which allowed for the bifurcation of the state in 2014, is applicable only to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in February 2014.
The Krishna river basin serves four states, the other two being Karnataka and Maharashtra.
The tribunal asked Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to appear before it on 14 December with claims on sharing of water out of the allocation for combined Andhra Pradesh.
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in their arguments sought a review of the water allocation based on their interpretation of Section 89 of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act that extends the terms of Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal .
Section 89, however doesn’t clearly specify whether the terms of the tribunal are limited to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana or include the other two states.
The Brijesh Kumar tribunal in its final award in November 2013 awarded 1,005 thousand million cubic feet (tmc) of Krishna water to combined Andhra Pradesh, 907 tmc to Karnataka and 666 to Maharashtra.
The tribunal also decided to distribute any surplus water among the three states, in a departure from an earlier oder of the tribunal that gave combined state of Andhra Pradesh the freedom to use the surplus water.
The latest award is binding till 2050.
With the case in the Supreme Court, the centre has put on hold the notification of the award and appointment of a Krishna Water Decision Implementation Board.
The problem arises because the combined state of Andhra Pradesh started work on several projects based on the availability of surplus water. When it approached the court in 2014 seeking a review, Telangana impleaded the petition.
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have taken up seven projects based on surplus water to provide drinking water and irrigation at an estimated cost of Rs50,000 crore.
The future of these projects is now in a limbo.
“Telangana state was not born at the time of Krishna water allocation by the tribunal; a fresh reallocation could have given us a chance to represent and plead for our share of waters,” said R. Vidyasagar Rao, irrigation adviser to the government of Telangana
“The court asked the two states to submit project wise claims for water allocation in the next hearing on 14 December,” said Dammalapati Srinivas, advocate general of Andhra Pradesh.
Karnataka welcomed tribunal’s order.
“It has vindicated our stand on the issue,” said Karnataka water resources minister M.B. Patil in Bengaluru.