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Centres mediates as AP & Telangana fail to reach consensus on water disputes

The Central government firmed up its stand on issues of irrigation concerning the sibling States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Even though there was no consensus at the Apex Council meeting held on Tuesday, the Centre decided to notify the jurisdiction of the projects, which will ultimately invest Godavari River Management Board (GRMB) and Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) with power to take control over the irrigation projects. 
 
The Centre also made it clear that the projects for which water has not been allocated by the Tribunals would be treated as new projects. Thus, the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Project in AP and Palamuru- Rangareddy Lift Irrigation Scheme in Telangana on Krishna and also Kaleshwaram LIS in TS will be construed as new projects. 
 
Meanwhile, the Telangana government agreed to withdraw the case in Supreme Court on Krishna waters, enabling the Centre to move forward on referring the water sharing issues either to a new Tribunal or the existing Brijesh Kumar Tribunal under Inter-state River Water Disputes Act (ISRWD), 1956. 
 
However, the Centre felt that it is possible to make more new projects functional once the Krishna water is reallocated among projects. 
 
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao participated in the meeting through video-conference from Hyderabad and his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy participated from Delhi. The Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who chaired the Apex Council meeting, later briefed the media in Delhi that though the Telangana CM requested for inclusion of the contents of his letter to the Jal Shakti Minister in the agenda of the Apex Council, the meeting deliberated only four agenda points, which were decided earlier.
 
The Apex Council discussed the jurisdiction of both GRMB and KRMB. While Telangana CM wanted to wait till the existing Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal  (KWDT) decides on Krishna water allocations between AP and TS, Jagan said it was okay to notify the jurisdiction of the projects. “As there was no consensus in the meeting, we have decided to notify the jurisdiction so that Boards can regulate water releases,” Shekhawat said. 
 
Submission of DPRs
 
The Jal Shakti Minister wanted both the States to submit detailed project reports (DPRs) of new projects taken up by them. However, both AP and TS claimed that the projects taken up by them were not new. Yet, they agreed to submit the reports. As there were claims and counter claims by both AP and TS on new projects, the Centre finally took the lead and decided that all the projects that have water allocation from KWDT-1 can be deemed as old projects. 
 
Also, those projects mentioned in the Schedule IX of the AP Reorganisation Act (APRA), 2014 also to be considered as old projects, but any of them if they do not have water allocations by Tribunals, then States need to get water allocated to these by KWDT-2, which is presently hearing the matter.
 
“For all the above old projects, which do not have water allocations from the Tribunals or have changed in some scope after the bifurcation of the State, both the States should submit their DPRs to the Boards for technical clearance. Rest of the projects not coming under the above two categories are to be deemed as new projects and their DPRs have to be submitted to the Boards,” the meeting decided.
“We have made our stand clear that unless the DPRs of these new projects get technically cleared from the respective Boards, both the States cannot take up these projects,” the Union Minister said. He, however, did not name the new projects.
 
Mechanism for sharing
 
The Apex Council also deliberated on establishing a mechanism for determining the share of Krishna and Godavari waters between the two States. The Union Minister proposed that both the States as well as the Centre have limited role in this as the water allocations are done by the Tribunals. 
 
“In the case of Krishna waters, allocations done by KWDT-1 are in force today. KWDT-2 is presently hearing the matter of water allocations between both the States and once its award is published that will come into force. In case of Godavari waters, GWDT has not given any en bloc allocations of Godavari river waters to the States. The en bloc and project-wise allocation of waters is needed for appraisal of DPRs of the projects,” according to the Centre. 
 
Since both the States complained against each other, the Centre proposed to either decided Godavari water sharing between AP and TS by mutual agreement or to constitute a new Tribunal for the same. 
 
Centre’s view 
 
Though, it was not in the agenda, the Centre expressed its views on Krishna waters. “Krishna basin has many projects but has limited water. We have to really work on improving the efficiency of the existing projects, so water reallocation is possible to make more new projects functional. In Godavari basin, we need to ensure that all the available water is properly utilised with completing all approved projects first before planning on new projects,” the Centre proposed.
 
 The Centre also felt that there was an option of interlinking Godavari with Krishna (up to Cauvery), so that the areas which are deficit in water resources could also be taken care of. 
 
Meanwhile, the Union Minister said that the Apex Council meeting also decided to shift the KRMB office from Hyderabad to Andhra Pradesh.
 
Telangana to withdraw case
 
With regard to Telangana’s request of referring the water allocation issue to a new Tribunal or to KWDT-2, the Union Minister said that they cannot do it now as there was a case in the Supreme Court and it would become subjudice. Then, Telangana CM agreed to withdraw the case in the Supreme Court against Krishna water sharing, enabling the Centre to take a decision, the Union Minister said. 

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