Andhra to challenge Krishna tribunal award in Supreme Court

Thursday 05 December 2013

Final award on sharing Krishna waters takes away most of the surplus water given to the state by earlier tribunal

Seven projects in Andhra Pradesh, including the Handri-Neeva (ssen in pic), planned on the basis of surplus water allotted to Andhra pradesh by earlier tribunal headed by Justice (retd) R S Bachawat may be affected by latest tribunal award. The state has already spent Rs 25,000 crore on these projects

Disappointed over the final verdict of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT II), Andhra Pradesh has decided to challenge it in the Supreme Court. The decision to move court was taken at a state Cabinet meeting on December 4. An all-party meet will be called soon to decide the future course of action regarding the tribunal award. The state took the decision in the backdrop of strong protests by political parties and farmers’ organisations against the award.

The tribunal led by former Supreme Court judge, Brijesh Kumar, pronounced its final verdict on November 29. This is the second tribunal that looked into the dispute over sharing of the Krishna river waters among the three riparian states—Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The first tribunal (KWDT- I), led by retired Supreme Court judge R S Bachawat, had given its order in 1973, and it was binding till May 2000. The Centre appointed the second tribunal in 2004 and it started its work in 2006.
As per the final award, Andhra Pradesh is entiltled to get  1,005 thousand million cubic feet (tmc) of water, Karnataka will get  907 tmc and Maharashtra’s share is  666 tmc (1 tmc equals 28.3 billion litres). This award will be binding till 2050. The tribunal has asked the Centre to appoint a Krishna Water Decision Implementation Board,  giving representation to Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh as well as the Centre.

“The tribunal’s order is against the state’s interests,” says K Sudarshan Reddy, the state irrigation minister. The tribunal has done  gross injustice to Andhra Pradesh, which is located at the tail end of the river, while pleasing the upper riparian states, he alleges.

After releasing the draft (interim report) on December 30, 2010, the tribunal had asked the three states and the Centre to file their objections and points on which they need explanation and clarifications. Andhra Pradesh sent its petition to the tribunal on March 28, 2011, raising 14 objections. “But the tribunal rejected all the objections we raised,” says Reddy.

Why the state is unhappy?

Under the Bachawat tribunal award, Andhra Pradesh’s share of allocation was 811 tmc. The share of Karnataka was 734 tmc and that of Maharashtra was 585 tmc (see table). The Bachawat tribunal determined the availability of water in the Krishna for distribution among the three states by taking data for 78 years from 1894-95 to 1971-72. The tribunal’s assessment was that there would be 2,060 tmc water at 75 per cent dependability (which means in a scale of hundred years, more than 2,060 tmc of water would be there in 75 years and the remaining 25 years would be deficit years in which water availability would be less) and 70 tmc of  return flow (the amount of water flowing back to the river after utilisation).

Accordingly, the tribunal divided the available 2,130 tmc (2,060+70 tmc) of water among the three states.

Andhra Pradesh, which is located at the tail end of the river, has a self-catchment of 337 tmc and the rest is released from the upper riparian states. To compensate for the deficit years in which the flow will be less than 2,130 tmc, the Bachawat tribunal granted Andhra Pradesh the liberty to use the surplus water. The state has taken up seven irrigation projects that utilise 227.5 tmc water and cater to mainly the drought-prone districts of Telanagana and Rayalaseema regions (see 'Under threat?'). The total cost of these seven projects is around Rs 32,000 crore and the state has already spent about Rs 25,000 crore.

However, under the final award of the Brijesh Kumar tribunal, the state has emerged as a loser. It is going to lose its freedom to use the surplus water. The surplus water is going to be divided among the three states. Besides, the tribunal deviated from the 75 per cent dependability and assessed the avialbilty of water at 65 per cent dependability, taking  a yearly water  yield series of 47 years (1961-62  to 2007-2008).  The tribunal’s assessment was that at 65 per cent dependability, 2,293 tmc of water is available for distribution. That means 163 tmc more than the amount calculated by the Bachawat tribunal. This quantity was divided among the three states.

The tribunal assessed the surplus water by taking the difference of the average flow for 47 years (2,578 tmc) and the water available at 65 per cent dependability (2,293 tmc). The surplus water is assessed to be 285 tmc. The tribunal divided this quantity, too, among the three states. Till now Andhra Pradesh was utilising this quantity (163+285).

“By this award, the Brijesh Kumar tribunal has defeated the justice given by the Bachawat tribunal to the tail end state of Andhra Pradesh,” says Cherukuri Veeraiah, a Hyderabad-based retired engineer who is an expert in the Krishna water sharing issues. When the Central government amended the Inter-State Water Dispute Act (1969)  in 2002, it was clearly stated that assessments by the previous tribunals would not be altered.

Tribunal stand on surplus water

The tribunal’s explanation is that it has retained the dependability at 75 per cent upto 2,130 tmc and the 65 per cent dependability was taken only above the 2,130 tmc. It also says just like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra, too, have rights on the surplus water. The tribunal further points out that the Bachawat tribunal granted only the liberty to use the surplus water, but had clearly said that Andhra Pradesh could not claim any right on the surplus water.
“This explanation is meaningless,” says Veeriah. “The Brijesh Kumar tribunal’s deviation in dependability while assessing the water availability has violated the Bachawat tribunal’s award.” According to him, while assessing the water availability, data for a longer period need to be considered. The Brijesh Kumar tribunal’s explanation for taking 47 years data is that gauged data on water flow were available only from 1961-62. The Bachawat tribunal’s assessment was mainly based on calculations using specific formula rather than gauged data, says the Brijesh Kumar tribunal.

Contention over Almatti dam

The state is equally bitter about the tribunal’s allowing Karnataka to raise the height of Almatti dam across the Krishna river from 519.6 m to 524.26 m. Raising the height of the dam has been a bone of contention between the two states. Andhra argues that in case the height is raised, Karnataka will have a higher storage facility. At present, the storage capacity of the dam is 129 tmc. If the height is raised, the storage capacity will increase by another 130 tmc. If that happens, the state fears, release of water to Andhra will be delayed because Karnataka will first fill the dam and then release water to Andhra Pradesh.

“There could be at least one or two months delay in releasing water,” says P Padma, president of state unit of All India Kisan Sabha (CPI).The delay means late transplantation of paddy, which in turn will make kharif crop (monsoon crop) vulnerable to cyclones in October –November,  she points out. Besides, harvest will be delayed and there will be no scope for raising a second crop in the Krishna delta. “We are urging the state to exert pressure on the Centre to scrap the award,” she says.

Andhra fears more dams in upper riparian states

The state has also apprehensions about Maharashtra and Karnataka taking up new projects since their allocations have gone up. In its petition to the tribunal in 2011, Andhra Pradesh had alleged that both the upper riparian states have already taken up many new projects and were utilising more water than the original allocations by the Bachawat tribunal.

But the Brijesh Kumar tribunal has dismissed all these fears, saying they are baseless. Besides, the tribunal points out there will be an implementation board which will see to it that all the three states abide by the final ruling and utilise only that much quantity of water which is allocated to each state.

When the interim award was pronounced, the Andhra Pradesh government had filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court, challenging the award. Subsequently the Supreme Court had asked the Central government not to publish the award in its gazette. It had asked Andhra Pradesh to approach it again if the state had any complaint after the final award.

The allocation by Brijesh Kumar tribunal will not be notified until the case is disposed of.

Protests intensify

Meanwhile, since elections to Parliament as well as the state Assembly are round the corner, poitical parties are trying to fish in troubled waters, making the tribunal’s award an issue. Farmers’ associations have decided to intensify their protests against the award. A meeting of the associations held in Hyderabad on December 2 has decided to go ahead with a three-pronged action plan: mobilise people against he award, mounting pressure on the state and the central governments to scrap the award and resort to legal course if needed. Political parties have also taken to the streets.

Krishna water allocation by two tribunals
(in thousand million cubic feet feet)
Year 2013 1976
Andhra Pradesh 1,005 811
Karnataka 907 734
Maharashtra 666 585

*Karnataka government allowed to increase the height of Almatti to 524.256 meters from 519
*Andhra Pradesh loses its freedom to enjoy surplus water

Projects under threat

Seven projects planned on surplus waters (total 227.5 tmc)


Nettampadu Lift Irrigation Scheme 22 tmc
Kalwakurthy LIS 25 tmc
AMRP (SLBC) 30 tmc


Teluguganga 29 tmc
Handri-Neeva 40 tmc
Galeru-Nagari 38 tmc


Veligonda 43.50 tmc

Move from news to views and get in-depth reports on issues that matter to you, every fortnight.
Subscribe now »

We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Telengana's water grouse

Telengana's water grouse

Regional disparity in allocation of Krishna water in Andhra Pradesh is both because of politics and topography, finds Bharat Lal Seth

The big challenges for Telangana

The big challenges for Telangana

Telangana region accounts for huge chunk of natural resources of undivided Andhra Pradesh. Will creation of new state intensify existing regional disputes over these resources?

In deep waters

In deep waters

How an attempt to convert a water body into land for commercial use was foiled

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.

  • With Brejesh Kumar Tribunal

    With Brejesh Kumar Tribunal data manipulation AP lost its due share of water:

    On this I submitted a letter to the Respected President of India on 11th October 2013 as the state bifurcation GoM is looking at order of Bachawat Tribunal. In this I presented details of technical violations by Brijesh Kumar tribunal to favour Karnataka and Maharashtra. In this I said: With river water sharing there are two crucial issues, namely getting water and sharing. Now AP is facing severe problem with getting water as with the still pending second Krishna Water Tribunal order AP will get allocated water around one in three years. Details are presented in given below enclosure. This along with several other letters submitted PM time to time was submitted to GoM on AP bifurcation. Most unfortunately the principal members in GoM are from Karnataka and Maharashtra. So, here also we did not find justice to AP.

    After Brijesh Kumar Tribunal announcing its final order I sent a letter to PM & Sonia Gandhi with a copy to Jairam Ramesh (GoM member of AP bifurcation) on 30th November 2013. In this letter I appealedÔÇØ ÔÇ£Respected Sir, and Madame, I herewith appeal to cancel the politically motivated report of Brijesh Kumar Tribunal award on Krishna Water and take stringent action against the Judges who are the members of the tribunal.ÔÇØ. The reasons are as follows:

    The whole issues of allocation of water to three states were based on statistical analysis using the data on water availability. Bachawat tribunal looked at scientific path while selecting the data and analyzing the data to get probability estimates but the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal followed political path to favour the states that are behind their appointment for the tribunal. Why I said political path is: The rainfall of AP and the Krishna River basin following a rhythmic variation ÔÇô known as natural variation part of climate change. Even IPCC and UN agreed the importance of natural variations in precipitation. Water availability data of Krishna River also followed this pattern. This is a sine curve. Starting with below the average 66 years followed 66 above the average pattern. Now we are in the below the average 66 year pattern. By simply plotting the data on graph years versus available water we can see the pattern.

    Bachawat used the data of water availability from 1984 to 1970. This period takes into account both below average and the above the average parts of the 132 year cycle. Use of this data was agreed by all the three states. Based on this data the probability estimates were derived. Brijesh Kumar selected the period 1961 to 2007, a period principally covering the above average pattern. This data was not agreed by AP. In statistical sense the committee should have taken from 1894 to 2007, to achieve better results for probability estimates. As their intension was to some way benefit Karnataka and Maharashtra they chose better available water/rainfall period. As a result, it increased the mean available water by 185 TMC [Brijesh Kumar estimate 2578 TMC ÔÇô Bachawat estimate 2393 TMC].

    Globally widely in use practice to estimate dependable precipitation or water availability is taken as 75% probability, which means available in three years out of four years. This is used by IMD, ICRISAT, Hydrometeorology departments etc. Deviating from this Brijesh Kumar chose 65% probability as dependable to favour Karnataka and Maharashtra. This way he increased the water availability by 93 TMC [Brijesh estimate 2293 TMC ÔÇô Bachawat estimate 2200 TMC]. Here double benefits: instead of 75% he used 65% and raised the water availability by 163 TMC and through data manipulation 93 TMC.

    By data manipulation Brijesh Kumar raised the water availability by 278 TMC [from average 185 TMC that adds to surplus water + from 65% probability 93 TMC]. Simply through data manipulation Brijesh Kumar raised the water availability to 278 TMC and allowed to raise Almatti height and legalized illegal constructions in Karnataka and in the case of Maharashtra he legalized illegal constructions and diverted water to power plant. In the case of AP, Brijesh Kumar rejected the request to legalize the projects that use surplus water.

    If we look at real issue:
    Brijesh used surplus water as 285 TMC but after reduction of 185 TMC it is 100 TMC only

    Brijesh used at 65% prob. as 163 TMC but after reduction of 093 TMC it is 070 TMC only

    So, in fact instead of distributing 100 + 70 TMC, Brijesh Kumar distributed 448 TMC. The negative impacts of this system can be seen from frequency curves under the tribunals. The average available water of Brijesh Kumar curve [2578 TMC] meets the Bachawat probability curve at 30% only. So, AP will get once in four years its allocated water instead of thrice in four years according to Bachawat. We can see the reality from the following data:

    Table: What is happening with KWDT-II [sent to Respected President of India]

    Year Amount of water joining sea in [D]
    TMC from Krishna River@
    [A] [B] [C]

    2000 365 202 -083 918/ 091.7%
    2001 252 089 -196 805/ 080.4
    2002 111 -052 -337 664/ 066.3
    2003 013 -150 -435 566/ 056.5
    2004 012 -151 -436 565/ 056.4
    2005 023 -140 -425 576/ 057.5
    2006 1273 1110 825 1826/182.4
    2007 944 781 496 1497/149.5
    2008 907 744 459 1460/145.9
    2009 502 339 054 1055/105/4

    @A = Excess over 2130; B = Excess over 2293 [A ÔÇô 163];
    C = Excess over 2578 [A-448]; D = under KWDT-II water available
    to AP [1001+C] & {[1001+C]/1001} x 100, % -- KWDT-I ÔÇô Bachawat & KWDT-II - Brijesh

    From the above table it is clear that during 2000 to 2009 under KWDT-I all the ten years there was a flow in to the Sea [A] ÔÇô this is essential that river maintains its ecological condition but under KWDT-II for 65% probability value in four years there was no flow in to the Sea [B] and for 50% [mean] probability value in six years there was no flow in to the Sea [C]. This effects the ecological balance in the river and thus help illegal sand mining that in turn effect severely groundwater recharging.
    Under ÔÇÿCÔÇÖ scenario Andhra Pradesh gets its allocated water only in 40% of the years ÔÇô four out of ten years. The lowest availability is 56.4% [565 TMC out of 1001 TMC]. If this is the case under good rainfall period, then what will be the fate under good and poor rainfall period as that of KWDT-I or coming poor rainfall period? This automatically goes down beyond 40%. KWDT-II also allowed Karnataka to raise the height of Almatti Dam and as well legalized the illegal projects and in the case of Maharashtra it allowed to use water for power plants ÔÇô highest number of power plants were allowed in dry zone ÔÇô and diversion of water. This further reduces the water flows in to Andhra Pradesh. It is doubtful under KWDT-II Andhra Pradesh gets its share of allocated water even once in three years!!!
    Under such scenario, if central government appoints a committee to look after the distribution of water to three regions after bifurcation what will happen? Can we expect other than Water Wars!!! Nobody [politicians, bureaucrats or technical experts or irrigation ministers at the centre or the state] is talking on this issue. Only talking of KWDT-I water distribution issue forgetting the major issue that is going to affect agriculture, farmers, food production and power production implications associated with KWDT-II in Andhra Pradesh.
    In fact I was one of the 17 experts invited after the Brijesh Kumar first report in 2010. There I tried to tell these but the majority of them ÔÇô principal secretary of irrigation department is from Maharashtra, retired engineers are from Karnataka & Maharashtra who oped from Hyderabad state to AP and all the political parties and their Think Tank supported Brijesh Kumar in favour of Karnataka and Maharashtra. Even the advocates represented at Brijesh Kumar Tribunal were not briefed properly and thus poor Andhra lost the battle.
    Bachawat allowed to use surplus water by AP as AP will not get the allocated water in 25% of the years but Brijesh Kumar allocated water at average availability [at around 50%] and yet did not made any provision to compensate AP. All these clearly show the Tribunal is biased in its assessment. Unfortunately in India retired judges are given such plum posts even after retirement, so they simply follow their masters who gave them that post.

    After the Bachawat tribunal TDP government did not build the projects though plans were prepared and some got centres nod. TDP only laid foundation stones as the surplus water was used beyond Srisailem dam. Once these projects are ready, they will loose the illegal use of that water. It is regional political game to deprive dry regions of the three regions. Though Dr. YSR initiated they were not completed after his death. Now TDP blaming Dr. YSR. This is the type of politicians we have in our state.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
    Formerly Chief Technical Advisor ÔÇô WMO/UN & Expert ÔÇô FAO/UN
    Fellow, Andhra Pradesh Akademy of Sciences
    Convenor, Forum for a Sustainable Environment

    Posted by: Anonymous | 4 years ago | Reply
  • The terminology 'surplus

    The terminology 'surplus water' is misleading and lead to hasty and emotional response from lay readers in all regions. The impression carried is that 2130 tmc is an assured quantity , where as ,it is only an average with unquantified dips. A suitable term like compensatory flow would bring out the reality.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 4 years ago | Reply
  • may I suggest that graphical

    may I suggest that graphical presentation would make the arguments easier to follow .

    Posted by: Anonymous | 4 years ago | Reply
  • I tried to post the figures

    I tried to post the figures here but I was not successful.

    Surplus water -- 2130 TMC refers to 2060 TMC of water available at 75% probability level plus 70 TMC of regenerated flow in to river according KWDT-1. This means, Andhra Pradesh will not get 2130 TMC in 25% of the years. The amount over 2130 TMC is termed as surplus flow. Andhra Pradesh was allowed this water when it is available to compensate the 25% deficit years. This clause was removed by KWDT-2.

    KWDT-2 instead of using 1894-95 to 2007-08 data series -- which form part of the above the average and below the average part of 132-year cycle used only 1961-62 to 2007-08 which is part of above the average cycle. This resulted an increase of 185 TMC at average. Thus created triple impact -- increase in water availability at mean by 185 TMC; this in turn decreased the probability at which the allocated water reaches Andhra Pradesh from 70, 65, mean to 70, 50, 34%; and the unscientific favours further decreases these probabilities:

    ÔÇó Step-1: If the available water is expected less than 2130 TMC then Andhra Pradesh will get less than 811 TMC in 25% of the years. With the unscientific favours given to Karnataka and Maharashtra by KWDT-2, the percentage of years getting less than 811 TMC of water will increase;

    ÔÇó Step 2: If the available water is expected less than 2293 TMC then Andhra Pradesh will get less than 856 TMC and more than 811 TMC in 25% of the years. With the unscientific favours given to Karnataka and Maharashtra by KWDT-2, the percentage of years getting less than 856 TMC of water increase;

    ÔÇó Step 3: If the available water is expected less than 2578 TMC then Andhra Pradesh will get less than 1001+4 TMC [Table 1(bii)] and more than 856 TMC in 16% of the years. With the unscientific favours given to Karnataka and Maharashtra by KWDT-2, the percentage of years getting less than 1001+4 TMC of water increase;

    All these indicate clearly that KWDT-2 order is a technical fraud to favour Karnataka & Maharashtra at the cost of Andhra Pradesh.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Posted by: Anonymous | 4 years ago | Reply
Scroll To Top