A ‘midnight gazette notification’ issued by the Government of India on Thursday midnight, taking control of all major and medium irrigation projects on the Krishna and the Godavari rivers from October 14 came as a rude shock to the Telangana state government, while AP has welcomed the move.
The sudden development came in the wake of the row over sharing of the Krishna waters between Telangana state and Andhra Pradesh, and both states lodging a series of complaints with the Centre against each other over the Rayalaseema lift irrigation scheme and enhancement of the capacity of the Pothireddypadu project by the AP government and hydel power generation on the Krishna river projects by the Telangana government.
The Telangana government has been demanding all along that the Centre determine its fair share in Krishna water first before bringing the projects under the control of Krishna River Management Board (KRMB).
Following this, Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao held an emergency meeting at Pragathi Bhavan with officials to take stock of the situation. The Telangana government is likely to move the Supreme Court against the gazette.
He also held a meeting with TRS Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members on this issue. The Chief Minister asked the MPs to strongly raise their voices in the Monsoon session of Parliament set to begin from July 19 and bring pressure on the Centre to withdraw the gazette notification.
The Chief Minister is learnt to have said the Centre took a unilateral decision on notifying the KRMB and GRMB (Godavari River Management Board) jurisdiction without consulting the state governments and without redressing the issue of final allocation of the Krishna water between the two states.
The Union Jal Shakti ministry issued a gazette notification establishing the jurisdiction of the KRMB and GRMB for “administration, regulation, maintenance and operation of the projects in their respective river basins, which will come into force from October 14, 2021.”
36 projects under Centre now
A total of 36 projects of different categories stand on the Krishna river in AP, Telangana and Karnataka, and 71 on the Godavari in the two Telugu states, Maharashtra and Odisha.
According to the notification, the projects and its components like overhead works (barrages, dams, reservoirs, regulating structures), part of canal network and transmission lines come under the purview of the Centre. The boards were given powers to perform all the functions to regulate the supply of water and power generated from the projects.
The Centre has stated that no person from Telangana and AP shall be appointed chairman, member-secretary, member and chief engineer of the KRMB and GRMB so as to make them impartial.
Halt all ongoing works on projects: Centre
“Both the governments should stop all the ongoing works on unapproved projects as on the date of publication of this notification until the said projects are appraised and approved in accordance with the decisions taken in the 2nd meeting of the apex council held last October. If approvals are not obtained within six months after the publication of this notification, full or partial operation if any of the said ongoing unapproved projects shall cease to operate,” the Centre said.
The notification also said within six months from the date of publication of the notification, both the governments should complete the unapproved projects appraised and approved.
For smooth functioning of the boards, both the Telangana and AP governments shall deposit Rs 200 crore each in bank accounts within 15 days of request received from the boards.
The Centre said the principles, guidelines, directions and orders issued by the boards on matters relating to power generation, transmission and distribution should be implemented by both the states.
It further added that if any dispute arose as to whether the KRMB had jurisdiction under sub-section (1) of section 87 of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, over any project, the same shall be referred to the Centre and its decision would be final.
The notification said the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) would assist the boards in security aspects. Though both AP and Telangana governments are responsible for managing natural calamities, the boards shall advise them on management of disaster, drought or floods.
Financial liability of any contract before the commencement of the notification, liability arising out of any case filed in any court or tribunal shall be the responsibility of the respective state governments, it said.
The Centre had directed both the AP and Telangana governments to comply with its directions. It asked the boards to put in place appropriate organisational structure to perform functions within 30 days and appoint officers serving with the Centre in all categories of posts.