Andhra Pradesh and Telangana water-share war seems far from over

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SourceBusiness Standard

Relevance: Interstate water disputes are a threat to national unity. Therefore, their resolution is of utmost importance.

Synopsis:

The Krishna-Godavari rivers may have their respective management boards now, but the tussle between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana over water-sharing seems far from over.

Background:
  • The Jal Shakti Ministry on July 15 issued a notification regarding the Krishna and Godavari river management boards. 
    • It calls for transferring the operation of all projects in the two river basins in Andhra and Telangana to the boards from October 14.
  • The notification came seven years after the constitution of the river management boards under the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.
About the notification:
  • The notification will enable the boards to limit states’ share of water as per their requirements.
  • It brings 35 projects in the Krishna basin and 71 in the Godavari basin within the purview of the boards.
  • To make sure the boards are unbiased, the Centre has made it clear that no person from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh shall be appointed chairman, member-secretary, members, and chief engineers. 
  • The boards will also advise the two-state governments on the release of water to mitigate disaster, drought, or flood. 
Timeline of Dispute:
  • The Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal was set up in 1969.
  • Before the state was divided, the tribunal had said that Andhra Pradesh would get 45-thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft) water from the total 80-tmc ft water that was to be diverted from Godavari to Krishna. 
  • The rest had to be shared between Mah­arashtra and Karnataka. 
  • Telangana now has a share in the water allocated to Andhra Pradesh.

What’s next?

  • When states share a basin, there are issues. Rivers and the environment get zero due, and states are only interested in taking more water for political reasons.
  • The boards need to have a clear framework to not just resolve disputes, but also take proactive measures to avoid environmental and climate disasters.
  • Further, the boards have to ensure seamless data-sharing with respect to groundwater levels and telemetry.
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