VIJAYAWADA: Even as Telangana government has continued to find fault with Andhra Pradesh for diverting Krishna water outside the basin claiming that it was against the provisions of the Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal (KWDT) - I, the Andhra Pradesh officials maintained that the state was at liberty and well within the purview of the norms to use the water as per its needs.
Telangana has also alleged that the KRMB has failed to restrain AP from diverting water ‘illegally’ through ‘unauthorised’ projects such as Pothireddypadu head regulator, Handri Neeva Sujala Sravanti.
The issue of diversion to outside basin was also a major bone of contention between both the Telugu states at the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) meeting held on Wednesday with Telangana accusing the board of failing to stop AP from the alleged illegal diversion.
But what do the provisions of KWDT-I say? AP officials argue that clause IV and XV of the KWDT-I final order “categorically permits” all riparian states to transfer Krishna water for its beneficial use outside the basin area, but within the permitted en-block allocations. In volume-II of its final order, KWDT-I says, “...each State shall have the right to make beneficial use of the water allocated to it in any manner it thinks proper.” Clause XV says, “Nothing in the order of this Tribunal shall impair the right or power or authority of any state to regulate within its boundaries the use of water, or to enjoy the benefit of waters within that state in a manner not inconsistent with the order of this Tribunal.”
“Clause XV of the KWDT-I final order declares that each riparian state to utilise its permitted water allocations in a water year in any manner it likes including outside the Krishna basin area, but without violating the provisions of the. Per clause V(c) of the KWDT-I final order, downstream AP is also given full liberty, till a new tribunal distributes the surplus water in future, to use the surplus water available in a water year in whatever manner it likes,” a senior official from the water resources department explained.
The official noted that since AP is the last riparian state, using the water going waste into the sea is not a cause of water dispute between the riparian states per section 2C and 3 of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 (ISRWDA). “AP is at full liberty to divert Krishna River water from any location to outside the basin area provided its water use is not exceeding its permitted water allocations — about 542 TMC including evaporation loss in Srisailam reservoir — by the KWDT-1 in a deficit water year. In addition, the excess water available in a surplus water year can be fully utilised by AP,” the official added.
Telengana, on the other hand, has been objecting to the diversion of water claiming that KWDT-I says that priority should be given to basin projects while equitable allocations are made for future projects. It also said that KWDT-I has not made any allocations to any project diverting Krishna water to outside basin from Srisailam.
Telangana has not only contended that diversion of outside water is illegal but also noted that interstate river waters should be used only in the respective basins first before diverting it outside in the years of surplus availability. It has written letters the KRMB and also to Union Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) accusing AP of going against the provisions of KWDT-I. In fact, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, in the second apex council meeting held in October, 2020, also agreed with TS’ view and said inter-basin transfers can be done only after meeting in-basin requirement.But AP officials question if such contention holds water as per the KWDT-I award and international water conventions. They pointed out that TS has also been diverting water to outside basin from Godavari via Kaleshwaram to Musi, which is a tributary of Krishna.
“Due to techno economic factors/reasons, initially the lands located outside the basin area which can be brought under irrigation at lower overall cost, are first supplied with Krishna water. Ultimately, all the arable land in its Krishna basin area will be brought under irrigation by using water from other river basins (Godavari, etc) also. This practice is also being implemented by TS by using Godavari River water in its Krishna basin without irrigating all the available arable land in its Godavari basin,” the state officials argue.
They also cited international conventions — Helsinki Rules on the Uses of the Waters of International Rivers — that do not restrict water uses in the basin area of an international river. “Helsinki rules advocate equitable water allocation by protecting the existing water uses from a river. There is no restriction to use water for outside the basin area requirements till the internal basin requirements are fully met,” AP contends.