Hyderabad: The Ministry of Jal Shakti sought to justify its gazette notifications snatching away control of irrigation projects from Telangana on grounds that the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act 2014 (APRA) provided for such a move. This step, the Ministry claimed, would reduce friction between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on water management.
Jal Shakti Joint Secretary Sanjay Awasthi, addressing the media in New Delhi on Friday, said the gazette notification was issued after “many deliberations with stakeholders from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and officials from the Central Water Commission (CWC).”
Explaining the salient features of the notification, he said: “It’s a super-sensitive issue. As far as the Union government is concerned, it was placed in a position where it had to function like an empire with a lot of efforts and meetings going into building a consensus. Consensus can be on major issues or minor issues like the shifting of the headquarters of Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) to Andhra Pradesh. We need to do it keeping in mind the sentiments and aspirations of all the stakeholders.”
Stating that a lot of time had gone into consensus building, he said it was because of the number of internal efforts within the Ministry along with the stakeholders concerned from the first meeting of the Apex Council to the second that the government could get some sort of agreement or clarity on the way forward, he said.
“Seven years seems to be a long time, but it was essential to bring all the stakeholders on board and sit together to seek mutual cooperation in the interest of the two States,” he said.
“The Apex Council meeting held in 2016 remained inconclusive while the agenda in the meeting in October 2020 was simple. Decision on the jurisdiction of the KRMB and the GRMB, submission of DPRs of new projects for appraisal and sanction by the Apex Council, establishing a mechanism for determining the share of Krishna and Godavari waters between Telangana and AP and shifting of the KRMB to AP were on the agenda,” Awasthi said.
Since enough powers were not given to the boards to ensure justice in sharing of river waters, a decision was taken that the Centre issue jurisdiction order during the meeting, he said, adding: “We took cognizance of projects on the Krishna and Godavari rivers in the notification and explained what exactly we mean by unapproved projects and what exactly is the position as far as Union government is concerned or the boards.”
Awasthi said there was equal representation from the two States in the meetings. “Since it has been an on-and-off issue as far as approved and deemed-to-be-approved projects, the government brought the projects under three schedules,” he said.
In a note circulated at the media briefing, the Centre said the APRA contains provisions for effective management of river waters in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. These provisions include the constitution of Godavari and Krishna River Management Boards apart from an Apex Council for supervision of the functioning of these boards.
The Union government, in exercise of powers conferred under Section 85 of the APRA, constituted the two river management boards effective from June 2, 2014, for administration, regulation, maintenance and operation of such projects on the Godavari and Krishna rivers, as may be notified by the Union government from time to time.
There had been a divergence between the two States on the issue of notification of the jurisdiction of the boards by the Centre. This was addressed in the second meeting of the Apex Council in October 2020 under the chairmanship of Union Minister of Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat with the Chief Ministers of Telangana and AP.
“In this meeting, it was decided that the jurisdiction of the GRMB and the KRMB will be notified by the Union government. In accordance with the provisions under Section 87 of the APRA, the Union government issued the two Gazette notifications, one for the jurisdiction of the GRMB and the other for the KRMB, for administration, regulation, maintenance and operation of projects in the Godavari and Krishna river basins, respectively, in the Telugu States,” the note said.
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