Andhra Pradesh and Telangana delay handing over projects to Krishna and Godavari river management boards
It has been a week since the Union Ministry of Water Resources’ deadline to implement the gazette notification notifying the jurisdiction of the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) and the Godavari River Management Board (GRMB) elapsed. But neither Andhra Pradesh nor Telangana have issued any government orders (G.O.) authorising the KRMB and the GRMB to take over any of their irrigation or power projects.
As per the Union Ministry of Water Resources’ gazette notification, the two boards should have started the process of taking over all the projects on the Krishna and the Godavari rivers by October 14. But, in the absence of the two governments officially handing over projects, the boards are helpless. This is because the gazette notification does not mention “taking over”. It only mentions “handing over” of projects.
As per the gazette notification, a total of 36 Krishna project components and 71 Godavari project components are to come under the respective boards. But the dithering riparian States agreed during confabulations held on October 12 and 13 that they would transfer the Peddavagu project, located across a tributary of the Godavari, to the GRMB and 17 components of the Srisailam and Nagarjuna Sagar Project to the KRMB.
But with no G.O. forthcoming from either Andhra Pradesh or Telangana, officials in the two boards were compelled to inform the Union Ministry of Water Resources of the situation. Sources disclosed that officials from the Ministry are now likely to conduct virtual meetings with the Chairpersons of the two boards to take stock of the situation and review the progress of the implementation of the gazette notification.
Reliable sources indicated that while Andhra Pradesh was prepared to issue a G.O. handing over some of its projects on the Krishna river to the KRMB, it was a conditional one. Telangana, which has made its opposition to the two boards taking over projects amply clear, is buying time before it issues any G.O.
Rajat Kumar, Telangana’s Special Chief Secretary, Irrigation, told Frontline that Telangana had set up a committee of experts headed by the Irrigation Engineer-in-Chief C. Muralidhar to examine the technical rules, procedures, protocols, measures and the legality of handing over projects. The State has also made it clear that it did not agree to hand over the power projects on Srisailam and Nagarjuna Sagar to the KRMB.
Explained Kumar: “The projects that the two boards have suggested that they initially be allowed to take over are common projects. But we needed to study the implications of what the two boards have suggested. We want more clarity in procedures and in some clauses of the gazette notification on the jurisdiction of both the boards. The expert committee that we have set up will examine the rule curves of what has been proposed by the two boards and the legality of the same. The committee, which has been given 15 days to submit its report, has already held one sitting.”
Kumar added that the State was in the process of building a consensus on the detailed operating procedures to be followed and was prepared to let the boards take over projects so long as the takeover was in consonance with the Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal award that adjudicated over the sharing of the Krishna waters.
Telangana has also raised questions over who should pay the salaries of the engineers from the State deputed to temporarily maintain and operate projects, whether these officials would be deputed on a temporary basis or permanent transfer to the Centre and who would be repaying the huge loans the State had taken when some projects were planned.
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