CJI Ramana refuses to hear Krishna river dispute, cites belongingness
Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Monday said that he does not want to hear the dispute between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana over the sharing of Krishna river waters as he "belongs to both states." He further expressed willingness to help if both the states want to settle the matter amicably through mediation. The matter is now slated for hearing on Wednesday.
Hearing a petition filed by Andhra Pradesh, the CJI said, "I belong to both the states. I don't want to hear this matter legally. But if the matter can be settled in mediation, please do that. Otherwise, I will transfer this matter to another bench."
Dushyant Dave, representing Andhra Pradesh, sought time to discuss the CJI's views with competent authorities in the state government. Appearing for Telangana, advocate CS Vaidyanathan submitted that since the central government has already intervened in the matter, there is no need for the court to adjudicate. CJI Ramana said that the court does not want to interfere unnecessarily, if the states settle it amicably.
The Supreme Court was hearing a petition filed by the Andhra Pradesh government which alleged that Telangana is indiscriminately drawing water from the Krishna river for its power needs, in violation of a 2015 agreement. It also accused Telangana of causing damage to downstream irrigation in Andhra Pradesh by drawing more water from three reservoirs that are common to both the states.
The petition sought Supreme Court's directions to the Union Jal Shakti Ministry to take control of the common reservoirs of Srisailam, Nagarjuna Sagar, and Pulichintala. It also sought a direction to the Centre to notify the Krishna River Management Board's (KRMB) jurisdiction under Section 87 of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014. Telangana was notably carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014.
Both the states have accused each other of violating the agreement to share waters from the Krishna river. The matter further escalated when Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July, complaining that Telangana was generating power at Srisailam Dam below 834 feet water level, which is the Minimum Draw Down Level (MDDL) for producing electricity.
In his letter, Reddy alleged that Telangana did not take the approval of KRMB to generate power at that water level. However, the Telangana government said that KRMB has no right to object because there were no agreements between the states on hydel power generation.
The fight over the Krishna river between the two state governments had started soon after the bifurcation of the then state of Andhra Pradesh. At that time, a temporary decision was taken to share the Krishna river water in the ratio of 66:34, meaning 512 tmc feet for Andhra Pradesh and 299 tmc feet for Telangana. But, Telangana has been demanding a 50:50 share.