Interstate River Water Dispute

In news: Krishna Water Dispute


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Krishna Water Dispute

Mains level: Read the attached story


Central Idea

  • The dispute over the water share of the Krishna River between Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Telangana has remained unresolved for nine years since the bifurcation of the combined state.

About Krishna River

Origin Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra
Length Approximately 1,400 km
States swept Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh
Tributaries Tungabhadra, Bhima, Ghataprabha, Malaprabha, Musi
Significance Irrigation, hydropower, drinking water
Basin Approximately 2,59,000 sq km
Dams Srisailam, Nagarjuna Sagar, Almatti, Koyna
Delta Forms fertile delta in Bay of Bengal


What is Krishna Water Dispute?

  • The dispute dates back to the formation of AP in November 1956.
  • Before the formation of AP, a Gentlemen’s Agreement was signed in February 1956 by four senior leaders from different regions of Andhra.
  • The agreement aimed to protect Telangana’s interests and ensure equitable distribution of water resources based on global treaties.
  • However, the focus on irrigation facilities favored Andhra, which had existing systems developed by the British at the expense of drought-prone areas in Telangana.

Resolution achieved till now

(1) Bachawat tribunal

  • In 1969, the Bachawat Tribunal (KWDT-I) was established to settle the water share dispute among Maharashtra, Karnataka, and AP (before bifurcation).
  • The Tribunal allocated 811 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of dependable water to AP.
  • The water was later divided in a 512:299 tmcft ratio between Andhra and Telangana, respectively, based on the command area developed by each region.
  • The Tribunal recommended diverting water from the Tungabhadra Dam to the drought-prone Mahabubnagar area of Telangana, but this recommendation was not implemented, leading to discontent.

(2) Water-sharing arrangement after bifurcation

  • The AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, did not mention water shares, as the KWDT-I Award was still in force and had not specified region-wise allocations.
  • In 2015, the two states agreed to an ad hoc arrangement of sharing water in a 34:66 ratio (Telangana: Andhra) during a meeting convened by the Ministry of Water Resources.
  • The arrangement was supposed to be reviewed annually.
  • The Act focused on the establishment of the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) and the Godavari River Management Board (GRMB) for water resource management.

Claims by each state

  • Telangana argues that it is entitled to a minimum of 70% share in the allocation of the 811 tmcft based on global practices and basin parameters.
  • Telangana highlights how AP diverts around 300 tmcft of water from within the basin, affecting drought-prone areas in Telangana.
  • AP also claims a higher share of water to protect the interests of already developed command areas.

Centre’s position

  • The Centre convened two meetings of the Apex Council in 2016 and 2020, involving the Union Minister and Chief Ministers of Telangana and AP, but no substantial progress was made.
  • In 2020, following a suggestion by the Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS), Telangana withdrew its petition from the Supreme Court with the assurance that the matter would be referred to a Tribunal.
  • However, the Centre has not taken any action on the issue for over two years, while the two states continue to engage in ongoing disputes.

Way Forward

Considering the prolonged dispute and the failure to reach a resolution, it is crucial for all stakeholders to take proactive steps. The following measures could be considered:

  • Mediation: Appoint an independent body or mediator to facilitate negotiations between the two states and assist in finding a fair and mutually agreeable solution.
  • Scientific assessment: Conduct a comprehensive scientific assessment of the basin parameters, water requirements, and the impact of existing water utilization practices to inform the allocation of water shares.
  • Public awareness: Raise public awareness about the importance of water conservation, efficient utilization, and sustainable practices to reduce the overall demand for water resources.
  • Implementation of recommendations: Act upon the recommendations of previous tribunals and committees to ensure equitable distribution of water resources and address the grievances of both states.
  • More deliberations: Foster a spirit of cooperation and collaboration between AP and Telangana to jointly manage and sustainably utilize the Krishna River water resources for the benefit of both regions.

It is crucial for the central government to play an active role in facilitating dialogue, providing necessary support, and expediting the resolution process to ensure a fair and just outcome for all parties involved.


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