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Centre dithers on justice to Telangana State

Centre dithers on justice to Telangana State
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For the first time in this water year, Jurala Reservoir, which is at the entry of Krishna main river into Telangana State, has been receiving more...

The AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, gave National Project Status to Polavaram Project. At the same time, the Act was silent on the share of Telangana out of Polavaram diversions

For the first time in this water year, Jurala Reservoir, which is at the entry of Krishna main river into Telangana State, has been receiving more than 1 tmcft per day for the last three days. However, it would continue further only for two more days as the upstream reservoirs, Almatti and Narayanapur on Krishna River in Karnataka, and Ujjain on Bhima River in Maharashtra, have already reduced their releases downstream.

Considering the inflows and present reservoir capacities in the four basin states, it is surprising to see that the Almatti reservoir (capacity 130 tmcft), Narayanpur (38 tmcft) and Ujjain (117 tmcft) are filled to the brim, and at the same time Srisailam reservoir (215 tmcft) received only 8 tmcft and Nagarjunasagar (312 tmcft) got only 3 tmcft so far this year. Jurala’s total live capacity is 6 tmcft only, and hence it should not be reckoned for carryover storage at all. The similar situation of flows was seen in the last few years.

In the month of August, the request of Telangana State government to release water to meet its drinking water requirements, especially, in Hyderabad city and fluoride-affected areas of Nalgonda district, was turned down by the Karnataka State. Certainly, Karnataka and Maharashtra, the upper riparian states in Krishna Basin, are not bound to release waters downstream as Scheme-A is in operation as per Bachawat Tribunal Award.

If the Scheme-B is in operation, then the situation would have been different. During Bachawat Tribunal proceedings in 1970s, the Union government, Karnataka and Maharashtra States all wanted to implement Scheme-B. The Union government said Scheme-B was better and easier to implement than Scheme-A. The Bachawat Tribunal was also inclined towards Scheme-B. Unfortunately, erstwhile Andhra Pradesh government opposed Scheme-B, and opted for Scheme-A.

As consensus was essential for smooth functioning of its Award, Bachawat Tribunal opted for Scheme-A in its final order. Clarifying on the Scheme-A, Bachawat Tribunal noted: “Andhra Pradesh will be at liberty to use the excess flow in surplus years and at the same time will have to bear the burden of the deficiency in lean years.” Before Brijesh Kumar Tribunal (2000s) also, AP opposed Scheme-B and opted for Scheme-A.

As per the existing Bachawat Tribunal order, Scheme-A is in operation which is based on the ‘en bloc’ allocations and “not tied to any specific project or projects.” And as scheme-B was not in operation, Bachawat Tribunal Award did not stipulate for ‘deficit sharing.’ Hence, the upper riparian states are allowed for ‘enbloc’ utilisation without the burden of deficit sharing. Hon’ble Supreme Court has clarified the same in the Almatti case also. The Brijesh Kumar Tribunal also expressed it in its Report.

Meanwhile, Telangana State came into existence in 2014. Section-89 of the AP State Reorganisation Act had referred two issues to the Brijesh Tribunal: (i) to make project-wise specific allocations; and (ii) prepare operational protocol for projects during deficit flows. In effect, a sovereign State of Telangana, by virtue of its location of being an upper riparian state, had been denied its basic rights emanating from Bachawat Award i.e., (a) ‘en bloc’ utilisation, and (b) not subject to deficit sharing.

The people of a sovereign State of Telangana within the Union of India wondered that when a Tribunal Award for a river basin is in force and stipulated Scheme-A, then how Scheme-B will be made applicable for only two states in that river basin, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Further, without making a reference under Article 262, how can a Tribunal Order of a river basin be set aside, and ask a Tribunal to make project-wise specific allocation – denying ‘enbloc’ allocations and deficit sharing denying Scheme-A allocation of a basin State?

Two important bases of Bachawat Tribunal Award, the enbloc allocations and Scheme-A were set aside by the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014. And the Scheme-B allocation which is not part of the justiciable Final Award of the Tribunal is being implemented to the river basin States. If at this juncture, Scheme-B is implemented only for Telangana and AP, Telangana will be the sole loser and its sufferings will perpetuate forever. And AP will be sitting pretty.

“Any of the basin state of an Inter-State river has no power, legislative or executive, over the river outside the respective limits of each state.” People of Telangana State feel that the rights of Telangana as a part of the Union of India were not taken into account while enacting the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, as per the Constitution.

The erstwhile Andhra Pradesh had already strongly positioned itself due to its rule from 1956 to 2014. Besides, the provisions of the part related to ‘Management and Development of Water Resources’ of the Act, 2014, are also placed in its favour.

Looking at the aforementioned facts, and as the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014’s Section 89 scope was not to address the water woes of Telangana, the Telangana government made a complaint to the Union government under Section-3 of the Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 (Article 262 of the Constitution). So far the Union government has not acted on it.

The diversions from Polavaram Project have to be utilised by the upper riparian states above Nagarjunasagar Dam from the date of Sanction of the Project by the Central Water Commission (CWC), not from the date of actual diversions. It was based on the 1978 Agreement of GWDT. The sanction by CWC was given much earlier to the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014.

The Act gave National Project Status to Polavaram Project. At the same time, the Act was silent on the share of Telangana out of Polavaram diversions. In fact, to utilise waters above Nagarjunasagar, combined AP was awarded 45 tmcft out of 80 tmcft of Polavaram diversions.

On the basis of planned irrigation within the basin, Telangana got 96% share out of 45 tmcft. Without ascertaining or explicitly stating about the inclusion of a provision for sharing the 45 tmcft, the Reorganisation Act 2014 had referred to the Tribunal to make project-specific allocations and operation protocol for the projects. How can the water be quantified without adding the above 45 tmcft to the existing allocations?

It is quite clear that the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, does not contain provisions to resolve water woes of Telangana. Hence, the union government should take immediate action to resolve the problems of Telangana State, by referring its Section-3 complaint to a Water Dispute Tribunal. Telangana State shall be allowed to utilise the waters related to diversion from Polavaram and Pattiseema immediately. (Writer is Secretary, Telangana Engineers JAC)

By Salla Vijaya Kumar

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