The recent gazette notification by the Centre bringing all the projects on the Godavari and Krishna rivers in Telangana and AP under the control of two river management boards was not only unprecedented but also a step in the right direction. The Centre invoked the provisions of the AP State Reorganisation Act, 2014, to issue this, which seems to have ruffled the Telangana government more than it did to AP. The latter has welcomed it, though with some reservations.
Telangana has been opposing the move as it wanted the allocation of river water to be done first under Section 3 of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956. Currently, Krishna water is being shared according to an ad-hoc agreement reached between the two states in 2015 that allotted 512 tmcft to AP and 299 tmcft to Telangana. Though Telangana’s official reaction to the notification has not come out yet, those in the government are seething with rage and contemplating moving the Supreme Court. There are voices of dissent that it would do more harm to the two states than good because the notification set a six-month deadline for getting clearances for all the ongoing projects, which is very difficult; else, the projects would face closure.
As one of the main reasons of the Telangana movement was to get a fair share of Krishna and Godavari waters, it is understandable that the state is unhappy. There are always disputes on the utilisation of Krishna water between the two states, so the transfer of total control on the projects to the river management board would no doubt enhance its competence in the distribution. The boards too, as they have enormous power now, should guard against being unilateral and take both the states into confidence before arriving at decisions. The Centre should keep in mind that bringing the projects under the control of the boards ipso facto would not solve the problem unless it acts as a go-between in clearing the misunderstandings between the states. On their part, the states must get back to the drawing board and hammer out the irritants in an atmosphere of camaraderie and mutual trust till the water allocation is finalised by either the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal or a new one.