Jal Shakti minister attacks Telangana govt over inter-state river dispute

Union Jal Shakti Minister attacked the Telangana government for delay in resolving the inter-state river water dispute with Andhra Pradesh.

New Delhi: Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Thursday attacked the Telangana government for delay in resolving the inter-state river water dispute with Andhra Pradesh and said the Centre has sought the Law Ministry’s views on forming a new tribunal or to continue with the existing one.

For resolving the water dispute of the Krishna river basins, the Union Minister also asked both Telangana and AP governments to take steps to make the two boards — Godavari River Management Board and Krishna River Management Board — effective at the earliest as agreed under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.

Earlier this week, Rao had blamed the central government for taking seven years in resolving the inter-state river water dispute.

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Responding to the charges levelled by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao on this issue, Shekhawat said the delay was caused not due to the central government but because of the Telangana government which chose to file a case in Supreme Court in 2015.

However in the apex council meeting chaired by him in October last year, the Telangana government agreed to withdraw the case from the apex court but it could only submit the application for withdrawal seven months later, he told reporters.

“Further, in that case, the state of Andhra Pradesh filed objections. …Only before a month, SC allowed to withdraw the petition which was filed by Telangana and thereafter only our role has been started,” he added.

Shekhawat said his ministry has sent a proposal to the Law Ministry seeking comments on whether to constitute a new tribunal or give terms of reference to the existing tribunal to resolve the inter-state water dispute between two states.

“I am personally following up with the law ministry. I have spoken to the minister to expedite the process. As soon as the opinion will come — whether we have to constitute a new tribunal or present tribunal can be given terms of references, which I also want and which both the states want to avoid delay,” he said.

He said setting up a new tribunal is a lengthy process and has recommended that the present tribunal could look into the matter.

“I wish to understand how I am responsible for the delay of seven years which has happened just because they have chosen to file a case in Supreme Court. The delay caused by himself for the state, how is GoI made responsible?” Shekhawat asked.

He further said the Telangana chief minister also commented on the newly notified boards — KRMB and GRMB — saying notification of their jurisdiction was a “big drama”.

The Boards were existing but unfortunately, the notification of their jurisdiction could not happen. As a result, they were not properly functional and remained toothless bodies, he said.

However, the jurisdiction of the boards was notified after due consultation and agreement of the states. “How it can be marked as a drama? I think this is a lethal attack on the democratic system and constitutional framework of this country,” he said.

Requesting the two states to make the boards effective, the Union Minister said it is necessary to address any issues regarding over-withdrawal or invasion withdrawal of the waters of both the river basins and for smooth functioning without confusion.

The main requirement according to the notification are handing over the projects, control of the projects to the boards, DPR of unapproved projects to be submitted with the Central Water Commission through the boards, providing seed money and provision of infrastructure and human resources for the boards to function smoothly, he added.

The two states have been fighting over Krishna river water sharing ever since their bifurcation in 2014 when an ad-hoc decision was made to divide the water 66:34 in favour of AP.

Since then, Telangana escalated its demand to a 50:50 share and filed a case in the SC in 2015 seeking a due share of the river water.

But the Telangana government on October 6 this year withdrew its plea in the apex court after the Centre had assured that it will consider constituting a tribunal to resolve the issue.

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