IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Inter State Water Dispute  

30th November, 2021 Polity

Figure 2: No Copyright Infringement Intended


  • Telangana and Andhra Pradesh submitted in the Supreme Court that there is no information forthcoming from Karnataka for the past 14 years about how much Krishna river water it has diverted.


Argument by Telangana :

  • The state wants the central government to start again the tribunal proceeding afresh as it was not party to the earlier KWDT1 and KWDT2 adjudications.
  • Karnataka and Maharashtra are opposing the tribunal proceeding afresh and state that the extension of the tribunal period is only for resolving the water disputes between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states
  • The extended KWDT2 decided to confine redistribution of water between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states only.

Argument by Karnataka:

  • Lack of Publication: Karnataka has argued that its dam and irrigation projects worth thousands of crores to provide water to its parched northern areas have been stalled for all these years because of the 2011 order of the Supreme Court to not publish the KWDT decisions in the Official Gazette under Section 6(1) of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act of 1956.
  • the dispute raised by Andhra Pradesh and Telangana was between them and did not concern it.


Krishna Water Tribunal Award:

  • The KWDT II had allocated 166 TMC along with 7 TMC of minimum flow to Karnataka. Seven districts of the command area are severely drought prone. Four of the seven — Kalaburgi, Yadgir, Raichur and Koppal — are recognised as backward areas.
  • The State said the decision of the KWDT was enforceable only till 2050, after which it has to reviewed or revised. Ten years have already lapsed in litigation since 2010.
  • Karnataka required at least 10 years to complete several irrigation projects whose costs were pegged at ₹60,000 crore in 2014-15.
  • The costs would escalate annually by 10% to 15%. Even if the irrigation projects are completed in 10 years, the Central Water Commission clearances would take time.


About Krishna Water Tribunal:

  • Government of India constituted a common tribunal on 10 April 1969 to adjudicate the river water utilization disputes among the river basin states of Krishna and Godavari rivers under the provisions of Interstate River Water Disputes Act – 1956.
  • The KWDT in its award outlined the exact share of each state. The award contended based on 75% dependability that the total quantum of water available for distribution was 2060TMC. This was divided between the three states in the following manner.

·        Maharashtra

·        560 TMC

·        Karnataka

·        700 TMC

·        Telangana & Andhra Pradesh

·        800 TMC

  • The KWDT-1 provided for a review of its award after 31 May 2000. However no such review was taken up for more than 3 years after that.
  • In April 2004, the second KWDT, was constituted by the Government of India following requests by all three states. 
  • The second Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal gave its draft verdict on 31 December 2010.[10]The allocation of available water was done according to 65% dependability, considering the records of flow of water for past 47 years. According to KWDT II, Andhra Pradesh got 1001 TMC of water, Karnataka 911 TMC and Maharashtra 666 TMC. Next review of water allocations will be after the year 2050.



Constitutional Approach for Inter-state River water dispute:

  • Entry 17 of State List deals with water i.e. water supply, irrigation, canal, drainage, embankments, water storage and water power.
  • Entry 56 of Union List empowers the Union Government for the regulation and development of inter-state rivers and river valleys to the extent declared by Parliament to be expedient in the public interest.

According to Article 262, in case of disputes relating to waters:

  • Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-State river or river valley.
  • Parliament may, by law provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint as mentioned above.

Parliament has enacted two laws according to Article 262:

  • River Board Act, 1956: The objective of Boards is to advise on the inter-state basin to prepare development scheme and to prevent the emergence of conflicts. Till date, no river board as per above Act has been created.
  • Inter-State Water Dispute Act, 1956:
    • In case, if a particular state or states approach to Union Government for the constitution of the tribunal:
    • Central Government should try to resolve the matter by consultation among the aggrieved states.
    • In case, if it does not work, then it may constitute the tribunal.

Need to amend 1956 act:

  • There are dozens of tribunals for inter state water dispute resolution. It makes the process unwieldy and delayed.
  • There are time delays from 6 years to 20 years in awarding the verdict.
  • Low acceptance of the awards by the state: Only three out of eight awards have been accepted.
  • There are tribunals for last 30 years like Cauvery tribunal, Ravi tribunal and hasn’t given any verdict.
  • There has been delay in constituting the tribunals. It took nine years to constitute the Narmada tribunal.
  • The River Boards Act 1956, which is supposed to facilitate inter-state collaboration over water resource development, remained a ‘dead letter’ since its enactment.
  • There was no clarity in the tenure of tribunal members.
  • Generally tribunals members were not specialist in areas.
  • Tribunals didn’t go forward in water management and focus on developing a water database.
  • Tribunals were created when State approached the center and centre approved creation of tribunals.

Provisions of the Inter-State River Dispute (Amendment )act:2019

  • A dispute between two states will first go to a dispute resolution committee. In case of its failure, dispute will go to the permanent tribunal.
  • A single Tribunal with different benches for all the river disputes.
  • Maximum duration for a tribunal award is 6 years. 1.5 years are for dispute resolution committee and 4.5 years are for tribunals hearing and verdict.
  • Tribunals member tenure will be of 5 years or 70 years of age.
  • Tribunal will consist domain experts.
  • Tribunal decisions are binding and has authority of Supreme court order.
  • It will require maintenance of basin database.