Published: Wednesday 30 April 1997

After months of political wrangling, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh (AP) are heading for a major legal showdown to assert their rights on Alamatti dam. Both have filed separate lawsuits in the Supreme Court (SC). The move came after an expert committee endorsed the arguments of the AP government opposing Karnataka's move to raise the height of the dam. It also said that AP could execute new projects based on surplus Krishna waters without acquiring prescriptive rights. The committee was set up by the chief ministers of Assam, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal to study the repercussions of further construction on the dam (Down To Earth, Vol 5, No 8).

Soon after the expert committee submitted its report, Karnataka rushed to the SC on March 14, seeking a direction to the Centre to set up a Krishna valley authority for the implementation of the scheme 'B' of the Bachawat tribunal award (1976) for dividing surplus Krishna river waters among AP, Karnataka and Maharashtra. AP filed its suit on March 21, under Article 131, to stop Karnataka from carrying on the construction of the dam. AP fears that it would cut off water supply to the Krishna valley dams in the state thus threatening its agriculture and economy.

Karnataka has also asked the court to restrain AP from carrying out Telugu Ganga, Srisailam right and left bank canals, Bhima Lift Irrigation and Pulichintala projects till scheme 'B' is finalised. In fact, the expert committee has also recommended that the entire Krishna basin in Maharashtra, Karnataka and ap should be managed by a single regulatory board to ensure optimum utilisation of waters. The proposed authority can be set up either by agreement among the three states or by an act of Parliament. While Karnataka and Maharashtra are eager to carry out the proposal, AP has so far cold-shouldered it.

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