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Krishna Water Dispute

The nagging dispute over the water share of the Krishna River between Andhra Pradesh (A.P.) and Telangana remains...

Context: – The nagging dispute over the water share of the Krishna River between Andhra Pradesh (A.P.) and Telangana remains unresolved, even nine years after the bifurcation of the combined State.

What is the history of the dispute?
  • 1,400-km Krishna River flows east from Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra to the Bay of Bengal. It passes through Karnataka, and forms part of border between Telangana & Andhra.
  • The Telangana-Andhra Pradesh water dispute has its roots in the formation of Andhra Pradesh in 1956.
  • The dispute centers on the sharing of water from the Krishna River, which flows through both states.
  • Bachawat Tribunal was constituted to settle the dispute and it allocated 811 tmcft of water to Andhra Pradesh, which was then a single state.
  • The Tribunal also recommended that the water be shared in the ratio of 512:299 tmcft between Andhra and Telangana, respectively and to share water in the ratio of 34:66.
  • However, the Andhra Pradesh government did not implement the Tribunal’s recommendations. Instead, it continued to divert water from the Krishna River to areas in Andhra Pradesh that were outside of the Krishna River basin.
How is the water shared among the states?
  • Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) was set up in 1969 in keeping with the Inter-State River Dispute Act 1956.
  • In 1976 the states entered into an agreement to divide the estimated 2,060 thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft) of Krishna water into three parts
    • 560 tmc feet for Maharashtra, 700 for Karnataka and roughly 800 for erstwhile Andhra Pradesh (before bifurcation).
  • Andhra Pradesh during bifurcation asked the union ministry to include Telangana as a separate state and divide the Krishna River into 4 states instead of 3.
  • In 2014, the two Telugu states agreed to split the water on a temporary or ad hoc basis in a 66:34 ratio.
  • Of the total 811 tmc feet allotted to the combined state, Telangana would receive about 299 tmc feet of water, while residual Andhra Pradesh would get 512 tmc feet.
  • Projects in the Krishna River include Jurala, Nagarjuna Sagar, Pulichintala and Srisailam.
What are the key factors contributing to the dispute?
  • Lack of definition – On the Krishna River since it is complex and there is no clear consensus on which areas should be included in the basin.
  • The different needs of the two states – Telangana is a largely agricultural state, while Andhra Pradesh is a more industrial state.
  • So Telangana needs water for irrigation, while Andhra Pradesh needs water for industrial use.
  • The lack of trust between the two states – The two states have a long history of mistrust, which has made it difficult for them to reach an agreement on water sharing.
  • Minimum draw down level (MDDL) – Andhra Pradesh wants to increase the MDDL so that it can draw more water for irrigation in Rayalaseema.
  • Telangana wants to keep the MDDL at its current level so that it can continue to generate power and irrigate its own lands.
    • MDDL is the minimum level of water that must be maintained in a reservoir in order to ensure its safety and to allow for continued power generation and irrigation.
What is the way forward?
  • The two states could agree to a new water sharing arrangement that takes into account the needs of both states.
  • The Centre could intervene and impose a water sharing arrangement on the two states.
  • The two states could cooperate on water conservation measures to reduce the amount of water that is needed.
  • The best solution to the dispute will depend on the willingness of the two states to compromise and cooperate.

The Hindu – Telangana-Andhra River Dispute

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