CJI N.V. Ramana recuses himself from the row over Krishna waters between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana after Andhra Pradesh refuses mediation

Published : August 04, 2021 18:51 IST

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana. Photo: R.V. Moorthy

The Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana has recused himself on August 4 from hearing a plea from Andhra Pradesh seeking adjudication in its dispute with Telangana over the sharing of the Krishna river waters. In its writ petition before the Supreme Court bench headed by the CJI and comprising Justice Surya Kant, Andhra Pradesh claimed that it was being deprived of its “legitimate share of (Krishna) waters for drinking and irrigation purposes”.

Andhra Pradesh accused Telangana of deliberately not following decisions taken on river water management in the Apex Council constituted under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act of 2014, the directions of the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) constituted under the 2014 Act and the directions of the Central government and informed the Supreme Court that it wanted adjudication of the case by the court rather than mediation.

Andhra Pradesh’s latest submission was in reply to the CJI’s suggestion on August 3 to both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to try and resolve their dispute through mediation and not spend time and energy over litigation. After taking note of Dushyant Dave’s, the counsel for Andhra Pradesh, submission that the State wanted adjudication and not mediation, the CJI ordered that “the matter be listed before another bench”.

On August 3, the CJI told Dave he would be prepared to supervise the mediation process for an equitable sharing of the Krishna waters among the two warring States. Said the CJI: “But, if you want adjudication of legal issues raised by Andhra Pradesh in its writ petition, I will recuse and post the petition before another bench.”

Besides accusing Telangana of deliberately denying Andhra Pradesh its legitimate share of the Krishna waters, Andhra Pradesh also blamed the Centre for not notifying the jurisdiction of the KRMB. Stated Andhra Pradesh in its petition: “This is resulting in illegal acts on the part of Telangana and its authorities, creating serious constitutional issues.” (The Centre had notified the Godavari River Management Board and the Krishna River Management Board on July 16, giving them the powers to administer, regulate, operate and maintain projects in the two rivers basins as per the mandate of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.) The Andhra Pradesh government stated in the petition: “Fundamental rights, including right to life of its citizens, are being seriously impaired and infringed on account of unconstitutional, illegal and unjust acts on part of Telangana and its officials, resulting in the citizens of Andhra Pradesh being deprived of their legitimate share of water for drinking and irrigation purposes.”

The crux of the dispute pertains to a Telangana government order dated June 28. The order said 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.” The same government order directed the Telangana State Power Generation Corporation Ltd (TSGENCO) to “generate hydel power up to 100 per cent installed capacity in the State”.

Andhra Pradesh has accused Telangana of issuing these directions to the Director (Hydel), TSGENCO, despite a notification from the Union Jal Shakti Ministry dated June 17 unambiguously asking Telangana to “follow the water release orders issued by the KRMB, except in case of extreme grid urgency”. The Ministry had directed Telangana to “stop further release of water immediately through Srisailam Left Power House”.

Justifying its right to generate hydel power, Telangana has requested the KRMB not to permit any water to be diverted from the Srisailam reservoir until the entire in-basin needs are met. Demanding that Andhra Pradesh be restrained from diverting Krishna waters to areas outside the Krishna basin, the Telangana government stressed that any water diversion from the Srisailam reservoir should only be allowed after the Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar projects start spilling.

Telangana has also alleged that Andhra Pradesh had already resorted to releasing water from Pothireddypadu Head Regulator and Handri Neeva Sujala Sravanthi from July 25 without waiting for requisition from the KRMB or the Telangana government to furnish its views.

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