14 Aug 2023 12:05 PM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday granted leave in a plea relating to a dispute among the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra over the allocation of Krishna River water, and directed it to be posted on November 29. Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the State of Karnataka, mentioned an interim application filed by the state government for...
The Supreme Court on Monday granted leave in a plea relating to a dispute among the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra over the allocation of Krishna River water, and directed it to be posted on November 29.
Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the State of Karnataka, mentioned an interim application filed by the state government for the publication of the 2010 final award passed by the Second Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT-II) on water distribution between the riparian states. A bench of Justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Dutta was told…
Many parts of the country faced drought-like conditions this year, Divan pointed out, before adding –
“And today there's really an absolutely desperate need to complete our works as far as Krishna River is concerned. These are drought prone areas and it’s really a responsibility on each one of us to ensure that a suitable priority is given to this.”
Earlier in January, the senior counsel told another bench headed by Justice Surya Kant that the Karnataka government had already invested several thousand crores of public money to build infrastructure to utilise its share of the water from Krishna River, in an attempt to underscore the need to modify the top court’s interim order preventing the central government from notifying KWDT-II’s final order. He said –
“…Karnataka has developed infrastructure at the cost of Rs 13,321 crore and is in a position to utilise 75 TMC feet of water out of 130 TMC feet allocated to Upper Krishna Project by the Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal-II for irrigating 60 per cent of the planned 5.94 lakh hectares. If the water is not used, the infrastructure may deteriorate on account of various reasons including siltation, and weed growth.”
Today, Divan reiterated this in court, saying –
“Our infrastructure is complete and ready. Tomorrow, we can release the water which has been allocated to us under the tribunal’s award. And it is not likely that the court is going to, beyond a point, do some tinkering with this order. This involves huge amounts of taxpayers’ money. There's a big public interest in hearing this expeditiously and the water ought not to be allowed to flow into the Bay of Bengal.”
We will try to stop it on Tuesday, November 21, Justice Surya Kant replied.
Divan, however, argued that the plea ought to be listed on a Wednesday and a Thursday.
“The problem is that this is at the special leave petition stage and leave has not been granted,” the judge told Divan, “We will have to grant leave in order to list it on a Wednesday and a Thursday.”
“Please grant leave then,” the senior counsel requested. “There are cross SLPs filed by respective states. This will require final hearing. Your Lordships have said that as well. Granting leave, therefore, is a formality. Let it be granted and let the matter come up. At least we will get two days.”
After asking if any of the parties had an objection and finding none, the bench pronounced, “…Leave granted. Post the case for final hearing on Wednesday, November 29.”
The Krishna River originates at Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra and flows east towards Bay of Bengal, covering, together with its tributaries, 33 percent of the total area of the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. The current dispute has been inherited by the four riparian states from the erstwhile Hyderabad and Mysore states from which they were carved out.
In 1969, under the Inter-State River Water Dispute Act, the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) was set up, which sought to divide the 2060 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of water at 75 percent dependability into three parts: 560 TMC for Maharashtra, 700 TMC for Karnataka, and 800 TMC for undivided Andhra Pradesh. The tribunal also stipulated a review or revision of this order by a competent authority or tribunal any time after May 2000.
In 2004, a second KWDT was instituted under Section 4 of the Inter-State River Water Dispute Act in light of new grievances between the states. In 2010, this tribunal allocated the Krishna water at 65 percent dependability and for surplus flow as follows: 81 TMC for Maharashtra, 177 TMC for Karnataka, and 190 TMC for undivided Andhra Pradesh. However, in 2011, the State of Andhra Pradesh challenged this order before the Supreme Court, which enjoined the Centre from publishing it in the official Gazette till further directions of the court. In 2014, the Andhra Pradesh government also challenged a further report published by the tribunal in 2013.
In June 2014, undivided Andhra Pradesh was formally split in two, with its northern area carved out to create a new state called Telangana. Andhra Pradesh has since urged Telangana to be included as a separate party at the KWDT, the term of which has been extended by the central government, and for the water sharing arrangement of the Krishna River water to be reworked in view of Telangana’s newly gained statehood. However, Maharashtra and Karnataka have resisted this move, arguing that the share approved for undivided Andhra Pradesh should be apportioned between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as they are now.
The final order of KWDT-II has not been notified by the central government yet. Both the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka have filed applications before the top court seeking modification of its 2011 interim order and for a direction to the Centre to notify the decision and final report of the tribunal, as well as the further report published in 2013. In 2021, the Karnataka government filed an additional affidavit in the 2019 interlocutory application to direct the central government to publish the tribunal’s modified final order subject to the outcome of the pending special leave petitions.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Surya Kant heard the interlocutory application filed by the Karnataka government at some length, earlier this year.
State of Andhra Pradesh v. State of Karnataka & Ors. | Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 3076-79 of 2014