NEW DELHI: The Central government has taken a key decision to put an end to the frequent water disputes over the Godavari and Krishna River water projects. The Center on Thursday issued a gazette notification establishing the jurisdictions and finalizing the scope of the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) as well as the Godavari River Management Board (GRMB) which was pending since seven years.
The KRMB has directed the States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to deposit Rs 200 Crore each within 60 days in their bank accounts for the Krishna Board to function. With the release of the notification, joint projects in the Krishna and Godavari basins, their administration, regulation, maintenance, and operation of the projects in their respective river basins management, will now come under the purview of the boards.
The Central Security Forces will oversee the water management and safety of the projects. It said the two states should suspend all work on projects not approved by the Center by the time the notification is issued. The second Apex Council was directed to send the unlicensed projects to the apex council for approval within 6 months as decided at the meeting. It clarified that those projects should be canceled if permission is not obtained within six months and no water should be drawn through them. The Center explained that the notification will come into effect from October 14 this year.
The Center has set up boards under Section 85 (1) of the AP Reorganization Act, 2014 to prevent disputes arising between Telangana and AP states over the use of Krishna and Godavari river waters. However, the boards had no powers as their scope has not been finalized and the working manual has not been notified. This has led to frequent water disputes between the two states but the boards were unable to do anything. The boards were asked to finalize their scope in this order and give ownership over the projects.
Telangana has strongly opposed the board, however, Andhra Pradesh has always demanded that the projects be brought under the control of the board. The Nagarjuna Sagar project has been under the control of the state authorities as it is under the jurisdiction of Telangana. The board has been saying that control is needed as their ownership of the right canal that supplies water to the AP continues. Despite these contradictions, Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat made it clear at the second Apex Council meeting that he had the power to finalize the scope of the boards. Later in April this year, a meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah decided to discuss the issue and issue a notification in this regard.
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Section 87 of the State Reorganization Act reminded that previous awards would have to be notified by the Central Boards within the jurisdiction of tribunals constituted under the Interstate River Water Disputes Act of 1956. The Godavari Tribunal's award brought to the notice that there were no issues related to taking projects under the purview of the boards. It clarified that the new guidelines should not be affected on the Godavari River projects in Telangana and AP. However, the Center has opted to give the Gazette its scope.
With the notification of the KRMB, all the projects in the Telugu states will now come under its purview. These include projects which are dependent on the Tungabhadra River including, HLC (High-level Canal), TLC (Low-level Canal), KC Canal, Thummilla, RDS, Jurala power station, Bima, Nettempadu, Koilsagar, Telugu Ganga project which is based in Srisailam, SRBC, Galeru-Nagari, SRBC, Handrineeva, Mucchumarri, Veligonda Nagercoil, Srisailam, Kalvakurthi, SLBC, Palamuru-Rangareddy, Dindi, Srilailam Right and Left Hydroelectric Power Stations, Sagar based right and left canals, power plants, AMRP, HMWS, Pulichinthala, etc., are all covered under the Board.
Also Kaleswaram, Devadula, Nizam Sagar, Singuru, SRSP, Lower Maneru, Yellampalli, Mid- Maneru, Polavaram, Dhavaleswaram Barrage, Chintalapudi and Purushottapatnam have come under the purview of the Godavari Board.
According to a communication from the Ministry of Jal Shakti on Thursday,the Government of India is issuing two Gazette notifications for the jurisdiction of KRMB and GRMB for administration, regulation, maintenance and operation of the projects in Krishna and Godavari basins, respectively, in AP and Telangana. The notification will be issued in Delhi on Friday.