Andhra Pradesh files petition in Supreme Court in dispute with Telangana over sharing of Krishna waters

Published : July 15, 2021 13:06 IST

In Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh, water gushing out of the 10 crest gates of the Srisailam dam. A file picture. Photo: U. SUBRAMANYAM

With no end in sight to the confrontation between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana over the vexed issue of sharing the waters of the Krishna, the Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh filed a petition in the Supreme Court on July 14 against Telangana’s “illegal utilisation” of water of the inter-State river. Terming Telangana’s action as “unconstitutional, illegal and unjust”, the petition accuses Telangana of depriving the people of Andhra Pradesh of “their legitimate share of [Krishna] waters for drinking and irrigation purposes” and in violation of the right to life of its people.

The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister has already written twice to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his urgent intervention in the matter. Andhra Pradesh alleged in its petition that Telangana’s action was in violation of the May 1976 inter-State award, commonly known as the ‘Bachawat Award’, and that it was refusing to adhere to decisions on river water management taken in the apex council constituted under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, when the State was bifurcated into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

The petition stated that Telangana refused to follow the directions of the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB). The Board, constituted under the 2014 Act, taking cognisance of Andhra Pradesh’s complaints that Telangana was generating power from the Srisailam, Nagarjuna Sagar and Pulichintala projects in violation of operation protocols, had directed the Telangana State Power Generation Corporation Limited (TSGENCO) to stop power generation at the Srisailam Left Bank Hydro-electric Station (SLBHES).

At the crux of the inter-State dispute is the Telangana government order of June 28 notifying that “to tap more hydel generation in the State, the government has taken a decision to generate hydel power up to 100 per cent installed capacity”, from hydro-electric stations located on all irrigation projects in the Krishna and the Godavari to meet the State’s power exigencies. Andhra Pradesh’s contention is that the Telangana notification was issued just days after the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti directed the TSGENCO’s Director (Hydel) “to stop further release of water immediately through the SLBHES power house and follow the water release orders issued by the KRMB except in case of extreme grid urgency”.

Andhra Pradesh, on the basis of “daily readings” submitted by dam authorities, contended that Telangana’s power generation at Srisailam adversely depleted the availability of water in the Srisailam Dam project, the Nagarjuna Sagar Project and the Pulichintala Project and, in turn, deprived Andhra Pradesh’s irrigation projects in Rayalaseema of water.

Andhra Pradesh contended that in the new water year, the Srisailam project received just 8.98 thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft) water and Telangana utilised 3.09 tmc ft of this solely for power generation. Andhra Pradesh further said that Telangana, by utilising all the five 150 megawatt (MW) units at the Srisailam power plant, whose combined generation is 750 MW per day, had depleted the water level in the dam to 808.89 feet (full reservoir level 885 ft), with storage going down to 33.64 tmc ft, or just 15.59 per cent of the gross capacity of 215.81 tmc ft.

Telangana, in defiance of the KRMB’s orders, insists that it will not stop generating power from the Srisailam power plant since the latter has been designated as a hydel project by even the Bachawat Tribunal. However, officials pointed out that since July 12 Telangana, in the wake of the stiff resistance from Andhra Pradesh and directions from the KRMB, had reduced power generation to around 140 MW from the Srisailam plant, operating just one of the five 150 MW units.

Andhra Pradesh has requested the Supreme Court to issue directions to the Modi government to take control of the common reservoirs of Srisailam, Nagarjunasagar and Pulichintala, and operate them as per the rules specified in the Bachawat Award. It has also asked the court to issue directions to the Centre to immediately issue a notification fixing the jurisdiction of the KRMB.

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