TBA Opinion

CJI Ramana recuses himself from hearing on AP & TS water dispute

Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana on Wednesday recused from hearing the water dispute between Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Telangana after AP opposed the CJI’s proposal for mediation in the matter.

The CJI had, during the hearing of the matter, said that while he cannot hear the case on legal issues, he was willing to facilitate mediation between the two States. “I am from both States. I am not interested in hearing legal issues but can help if parties agree to mediation,” he had said. He had, therefore, posted the case for further hearing on Wednesday to facilitate the counsel for the two States to take instructions on willingness to opt for mediation.

When the matter came up for hearing on Wednesday, counsel for AP said that the matter requires adjudication (by court). “We cannot force you if you don’t want mediation. Let the matter be listed before another Bench,” the Bench which also composed Justice Surya Kant directed.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the States have no objection to the CJI hearing the matter. But CJI Ramana declined. “No. How can I hear it? List it before another Bench,” he maintained. The plea by State of Andhra Pradesh against Telangana pertains sharing of water for drinking and irrigation purposes.

AP has alleged that Telangana has been denying them their legitimate share of water for drinking and irrigation purposes. The plea stated that in the Srisailam Dam project, the reservoir’s quantity has seriously depleted on account of use of water from its generation of power in Telangana State. The AP government requested Telangana to stop the same but it was not complied with.

“This has caused immense hardship for people of State of Andhra Pradesh as availability of water has been seriously prejudiced by depletion in Srisailam Dam project as well as other projects such as the Nagarjuna Sagar Project and the Pulichintala Project,” the petition said.

The actions of the Telangana government are unconstitutional and in violation of the right to life of people of Andhra Pradesh, it was contended. It was further submitted that the State of Telangana is refusing to follow decisions taken in the Apex Council constituted under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014 and directions of Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) constituted under the 2014 Act and directions of Government of India.

Section 87, deals with “Jurisdiction of Board” and stipulates that the Board shall ordinarily exercise jurisdiction on “Godavari and Krishna rivers in regard to any of the projects over headworks (barrages, dams, reservoirs, regulating structures), part of canal network and transmission lines necessary to deliver water or power to the States concerned.

However, under Section 87 (1) the Board can exercise jurisdiction only in respect of such aspects as are notified by the Central Government. But no such notification has been issued till date, it was stated.

Meanwhile, in view of no progress on notification of the jurisdiction of KRMB, Telangana by its acts of commission is seriously affecting the water supply to Andhra Pradesh for irrigation and other purposes, the petition stated.

“More significantly, State of Telangana is clearly in violation of a binding Award, popularly known as “Bachwat Award” made on 31.05.1976 and express provisions of the 2014 Act, whereby State of Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh,” the petition said.

The petition primarily sought the following:

  •  Direct Telangana government to notify jurisdiction as per the 2014 act
  •  Strike down the June 28, 2021, order passed by Telangana government has unjust and illegal
  • Have Andhra Pradesh take control of the common Reservoirs of Srisailam, Nagarjunasagar and also Pulichintala Reservoir along with all their outlets.

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Tejaswini Pagadala

Communications Consultant: TEJASWINI PAGADALA is an independent communications consultant. She has previously worked with the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister’s Office as the Communications Officer where she has written English speeches for the CM, managed English media communication from the CMO and handled social media accounts of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and the Government.
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