VIJAYAWADA: The Union Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) has issued a gazette notification late Thursday night bringing 36 projects in Krishna basin and 71 in Godavari basin in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana under the jurisdiction of Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) and Godavari River Management Board (GRMB) respectively.
The Centre has said that the gazette would come into force from October 14, the day on which the states will “completely handover” the administration, operation, maintenance and regulation of projects or components (barrages, dams, reservoirs, regulating structures) including hydel power plants, part of the canal network and transmission lines, which have been divided into three schedules, to the respective river management boards.
“On and from the date of commencement of this notification, in respect of operational projects or from the date when a non-operational project becomes operational, as the case may be, the state governments of Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Telangana (TS) shall completely hand over the jurisdiction of the projects or components (barrages, dams, reservoirs, regulating structures), part of the canal network and transmission lines specified in Schedule-2 to this notification to the KRMB and GRMB so as to enable it to perform the functions mentioned in sub-section (1) of section 85 of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014,” the notifications (SO) 2842E and 2843E read.
No person from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana shall be appointed as the Chairmen, member-secretaries, members, and chief engineers of the boards.
"If any question arises as to whether the KRMB and the GRMB have jurisdiction... over any project referred thereto, the same shall be referred to the central government for decision thereon and the decision of the central government shall be final,” the notification published in the gazette clarified.
Since all the outlets of main reservoirs, canals, branch canals, distributaries, and transmission networks, have been brought under the jurisdiction, it has to be seen as to how the boards will regulate them, a top-ranking official told TNIE, after the notification was issued.
Unlike in the Godavari basin where there are no common reservoirs shared by both the Telugu states, the Krishna basin has several major, medium and minor projects that have so far been triggering water wars between AP and TS.
Hence, implementation of the jurisdiction of KRMB, which is now empowered, will remain more critical, another official opined.
A total of 36 approved and unapproved projects including components, extension schemes, lift projects of Srisailam, Nagarjuna Sagar, Pulichintala, Krishna Delta, Tungabhadra, KC Canal, Jurala, Dindi and others in Krishna basin in both the states have been included in the schedules.
Similarly, 71 approved and unapproved projects and components in the Godavari basin in both the states including Polavaram, Kaleshwaram and other lift and diversion schemes proposed and taken up by both the governments have been divided into three schedules.
Schedule-I has a list of 36 Krishna and 71 Godavari projects and their components, while the remaining two schedules are subsets of the first list.
Projects in schedule-I are those on which KRMB and GRMB will “ordinarily” have jurisdiction, while schedule-II projects are those over which the respective boards shall have jurisdiction and shall perform the functions such as administration, operation, maintenance and regulation.
Schedule-III projects will also be under KRMB’s and GRMB’s jurisdiction, but the functions shall be performed by the respective states on behalf of the boards as per their directions.
However, the Centre also clarified that mere inclusion of unapproved projects in the schedules does not confer deemed approval and that such projects shall be subject to appraisal and approval of authorities concerned.
The Centre has also given directions to both the states to stop the works of the unapproved projects and to get them cleared in six months.
“Both the state governments shall stop all the ongoing works on unapproved projects as on the date of publication of this notification until the said projects are appraised and approved... If approvals are not obtained within six months after the publication of this notification, full or partial operation of any of the said ongoing unapproved projects shall cease to operate,” the notification stated.
According to the notification, unapproved projects on River Krishna include Veligonda (AP), projects on Srisailam Left Bank Canal (TS), an additional 15 TMC pump house at Kalwakurthy LIS (TS), Palamuru-Rangareddy LIS (TS), Muchumarri LIS (AP), Dindi (Nakkalagandi) LIS, Alimineti Madhava Reddy LIS (TS), Bhakta Ramdas LIS (TS), Thumilla LIS (TS), additional 3.4 TMC component of Nettempadu LIS (TS), reconstruction of Muniyeru (AP/TS), pump house at third lift under Sitarama LIS (TS), Vempadu under Chintalapudi LIS (AP), Jutpally (TS) and others.
In the Godavari basin, Pattiseema and Purushottapatnam LIS, which will cease to be operated after Polavaram Irrigation Project, of AP, Chintalapudi LIS (AP), PV Narasimha Rao Kanthapally Barrage (TS), Kaleshwaram (additional 1 TMC component) of Telangana, Tupakulagudem Barrage (TS), Dr BR Ambedkar Pranahita Project (TS), Gudem LIS (TS), Mukteshwar (Chinna Kaleshwaram) of Telangana, Sitarama LIS (TS), and other medium irrigation projects have been declared unapproved by the Centre.
The state governments have further been directed to deposit Rs 400 crore each – Rs 200 crore each for KRMB and GRMB – within 60 days from the date of notification (July 15) to enable the boards to discharge their duties effectively.
Meanwhile, the MoJS has also scheduled to hold a press conference at 1.45 pm on Friday in New Delhi to brief about the gazette notifications, which is being done after the law department of the Centre has recently cleared the proposal for notifying the working manuals of the boards.
This also comes two days after the AP government knocked on the Supreme Court’s doors seeking directions to MoJS to take over the control of the common reservoirs.
For the record, the AP government has always requested the notification of the jurisdictions of the river boards, while the Telangana government opposed it citing the pending Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal-II allocation.
However, in the second apex council meeting on October 6, 2020, the MoJS, noting Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao's dissent, said it would go ahead with the notification as the Centre doesn't need consensus from the states as per AP Reorganisation Act, 2014.
As the water war between both the Telugu states intensified over the last year, AP CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has written letters to PM Narendra Modi and Union Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, even as recently as July first week, requesting notification of river boards' jurisdiction.
As there was a delay, the Andhra Pradesh government has also moved the Apex Court on Wednesday.