UPSC Mains 2016: All you need to know about the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal

What is Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT)?

  • Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) was  set up by the Central Government in 1969 under the Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956 to resolve the water disputes between the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra and then undivided Andhra Pradesh over sharing of Krishna river water.

What is the case?

  • The KWDT pronounced its judgement on the litigation prompted by Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Both states in their petition had sought fresh allocation of Krishna River water among all four riparian states. They had urged that Section 89 in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 meant redistribution of Krishna water among all the four riparian States not just between both of them.

The Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal II (KWDT-II) headed by Justice Brijesh Kumar, has recently decided to maintain status quo on the distribution of Krishna River water among all four riparian states viz. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.  The tribunal further decided to confine the reallocation of Krishna water to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

What was KWDT-II verdict?

  • In its verdict, the tribunal said that Section 89 the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 was not applicable to all four riparian states but is meant only for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Thus, there was no need to re-allocate the Krishna River water among all four riparian states. The river water should be re-allocated between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, from the share of undivided Andhra Pradesh.
  • About Krishna River: The Krishna River is the second largest river in peninsular India after Godavari. It originates near Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra.  It then runs through four states – Maharashtra (303 km), North Karnataka (480 km) and the rest of its 1300 km journey in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh before it empties into the Bay of Bengal.

What are Water Disputes Tribunals?

  • As per the Article 262 of the Constitution, 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, any interstate rivers or river valley. In pursuance of this article, the parliament had enacted Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956 to govern the inter-State river water disputes. Under this law, water disputes tribunals are constituted for the adjudication of the interstate water dispute.

Article 131 vs Article 262 of the Indian Constitution

  • The Article 131 of the Constitution which deals with the Supreme Court’s exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate disputes between States is not an unrestricted one. The apex court can exercise its jurisdiction under Article 131 in an inter-State dispute, as long as other articles in the Constitution allowed it to do so. Article 262 (2) of the Constitution allows Parliament, by law, to bar the Supreme Court from interfering in an inter-State water dispute. It means that award of water tribunal appointed under a law to resolve inter-State water dispute would be final and deemed to have the force of a Supreme Court order or decree. Thus, it can be said that the award of the tribunal formed under the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956 eclipses the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction