Telangana withdraws plea in Supreme Court on Krishna water share after Centre’s assurance on setting up a new tribunal

Published : October 06, 2021 21:02 IST

K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Telangana Chief Minister. Photo: The Hindu Archives

The Telangana government on October 6 withdrew its petition in the Supreme Court for an “equitable apportionment” of Krishna river waters among the riparian States. Telangana’s withdrawal comes in the wake of an assurance given by the Union government that it will “consider” the constitution of a new tribunal to resolve the vexed issue. Justifying its decision to withdraw its petition, Telangana stated that Union Minister of Water Resources Gajendra Singh Shekhawat had, during a meeting, put forth a proposal that the Centre would consider the formation of a tribunal subject to Telangana withdrawing its “equitable apportionment” plea.

Counsel for Telangana stated that Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao acquiesced to act on the proposal put forth by the Union Minister. Telangana stated that the Centre had expressed the view that it would, after taking the necessary legal opinion, “positively” consider forming a tribunal under provisions of the Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956.

Legal opinion on whether the Centre can form a new tribunal on the issue is mixed since the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-II (KWDT II), constituted in 2004, is already adjudicating on the matter.

Telangana had, in July, approached the Supreme Court expressing strong dissatisfaction over the share of water allocated to it and stated that it had been “unjustly denied” an equitable allocation of the Krishna’s waters. Making the Centre and the riparian States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra as respondents, Telangana stated that it had written to the Centre in 2014 seeking the constitution of a new tribunal under Section 3 of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act of 1956 to adjudicate on the issue in a time-bound manner.

The Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal (KWDT) headed by Justice R.S. Bachawat, set up by the Centre in 1969 under the Inter-State River Dispute Act, 1956, had allocated 560 tmc ft of water to Maharashtra, 700 tmc ft to Karnataka and 800 tmc ft to undivided Andhra Pradesh. In 2014, at the time of the bifurcation of the Telugu State, it was decided that the 800 tmc ft of water would be shared on an ad hoc basis in a 66:34 ratio, with Telangana receiving 299 tmc ft and Andhra Pradesh 512 tmc ft. Stating that the allocation was grossly inadequate, Telangana demanded that the waters be shared between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in a 50:50 ratio.

The court, after recording the plea made by Telangana, disposed of the case stating that it was a “very sensitive matter”.

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