No end to injustice to Telugu States?

No end to injustice to Telugu States?

The mischief played by the Congress and the BJP in the bifurcation of the united Andhra Pradesh has never fully been understood by the Telugus of the...

The mischief played by the Congress and the BJP in the bifurcation of the united Andhra Pradesh has never fully been understood by the Telugus of the two States. We are witness to the agitations and protests in the residual State of Andhra Pradesh over the refusal of the Centre to accord the Special Category Status to it.

The BJP leadership squarely blamed its inability to accord the SCS to AP on the Congress for the "haphazardly drafted AP Reorganization Act, 2014" in the heated debate on the issue in the discussion on the Private Member's Bill introduced by the Congress MP, Dr K V P Ramachandra Rao.

While, the Congress could justifiably be blamed for resorting to the bifurcation of the State for "political gains," the BJP is no less culprit in skirting the promises and assurances that we find in the Reorganization Act.

The latest blow to the two Telugu States is in the form of the Krishna Waters Tribunal's decision to treat the issue as an inter-State dispute between Telangana and AP and not as a dispute among the four States of the Krishna River basin - Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

The role of the Union government too is questionable here for the way it referred the matter to the Tribunal and the stand it took thereof. One of the biggest blows to the two successor States of united AP is rendered through the very Section 89 of the Act.

A careful perusal of the same tells us that the contents of the Act were carefully and craftily drafted against the interests of both the States. Neither the Congress nor the BJP which swear by it even now admit it. Yet, if someone feels like declaring the Reorganization Act, 2014, as an out-and-out anti-Telugus Act, it would be justifiably so.

Don’t trust me? Well, have a closer look at this Section 89 of the Act: "The term of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal shall be extended with the following terms of reference, namely: 2(a) – shall make project-wise specific allocation, if such allocation have not been made by a Tribunal constituted under the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act. 1956; 2 (b) – shall determine an operational protocol for project-wise release of water in the event of deficit flows.

Explanation: For the purposes of this section, it is clarified that the project specific award already made by the Tribunal on or before the appointed day shall be binding on the successor States. If only the Reorganization Act were to be drafted neutrally - mind you I am not saying in favor of the Telugu States - there should have been a clarification here itself as to the applicability of it to all the Basin-States.

Regarding the operational protocol for project-wise release of water in the event of deficit flows, by means of 'Explanation to Section 89,' it has been clarified that Project Specific Award already made by the Tribunal shall be binding on the successor States. Accordingly,

the Central Government published a Gazette Notification No. S01293(E) dated May 15, 2014. The relevant part of the said Notification is quoted below:

“There is a clause in this which says that the Tribunal could be dissolved after forwarding its report and as soon as the Central government was satisfied with it. It also says no further reference to the Tribunal in the matter would be necessary.”

The Tribunal took the stand that as it had forwarded the report before the bifurcation there was not need to reopen the case.

All a matter of technicality! The triviality of the technicalities is where the spirit of the letter was lost completely. Both the Congress and the BJP read the letter and the letter alone and not the spirit of it, or what should have been there of it.

Again how was the life of the Tribunal extended? It was done so recalling the Clauses (a) and (b) of the Section 89. Here is what was mentioned: And, whereas, Section 89 of the Andhra Pradesh Re-organization Act, 2014, provides that the term of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal shall be extended with the terms of reference specified in clauses (a) and (b) of the said section.

And, whereas, the Central Government considers it necessary to extend the tenure of the Tribunal for two years or until further orders whichever is earlier. Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by the sub-section (3) of the said Act, the Central government hereby extends the period of submission of further report by the said Tribunal for a further period of two years ( or until further orders, whichever is earlier) with effect from the 1st August 2014 so as to address the terms of reference specified in clauses (a) and (b) of the Section.

The explanation given above to the Section 89 is self-explanatory. Isn’t it so? Or, look at the way the Tribunal approached the dispute a bit differently. The Tribunal's final verdict delivered the other day says "all the four states, namely State of Maharashtra, Karnataka and successor States of erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh, namely, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, as also the Central Government put in their appearance through their counsel."

The four States here is not exactly four, but three - Maharashtra, Karnataka and erstwhile Andhra Pradesh The Tribunal did not deem the case as a dispute among four States at any stage. For the learned Tribunal, the dispute was among 'Maharashtra, Karnataka and the 'successor States of erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh.'

The State of Maharashtra pleaded that the dispute of three States had been decided upon forwarding of the further report by the Tribunal to the Central government. As the Act provided for management and development of water resources in the successor states, the jurisdiction of this Tribunal was limited to apportionment of project-wise specific allocation between the successor states.

The allocation already made by the Tribunal to the States of Maharashtra and Karnataka could be changed. It also pleaded that except the successor states, no other state was required to be made party. The stand of Karnataka was similar.

On the strength of the technicalities, the Tribunal refused to consider the plea of the Telugu States that as six projects to be completed as mentioned in the Section 89 of the Act of 2014 had not been given any project-wise allocation by the Krishna Waters Disputes Tribunal in the past, the case must be treated as a intra-basin dispute.

The Centre did not help the case of the successor States with its reference to the Tribunal which made it frame 'nine issues" which only sought to know whether the Tribunal was alive to adjudicate the matter and if so whether it could reopen an already adjudicated matter and whether project-wise allocations were to be confined to the two States etc.

That effectively sealed the fate of the Telugu States. Could there be another reason behind the scheming? Just imagine, reopening of the case by the Tribunal as sought by the Telugu States. Karnataka, which is on the boil ever since the Cauvery imbroglio is where the BJP does not want another headache.

Both Siddharamaiah (CM) and Deve Gouda (JD-S) have seized the initiative and are sitting pretty.With its troubled alliance in Maharashtra the BJP could ill afford another powder keg which could be effectively used against it either by the Shiv Sena or another street smart player, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. As for the future of BJP in AP and TS....the less said the better.

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