SC asks if States can settle dispute over Krishna water allocation through mediation

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SC asks if States can settle dispute over Krishna water allocation through mediation

  • The Supreme Court hearing had seen verbal battles among the States, with Telangana submitting that there was no information from Karnataka for the past 14 years about how much Krishna River water it had diverted.


  • Karnataka had sought the vacation of a November 16, 2011 order of the Supreme Court which stopped the Centre from publishing in the Official Gazette the final order of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal II (KWDT) pronounced in December 2010, allocating the river water to Karnataka, erstwhile Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
  • The publication of the order of the Tribunal is a necessary pre-condition for its implementation.
  • The KWDT had further modified its final order in 2013 to allot surplus water to Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh while preserving the allocation of 2130 TMC already made amongst them.
  • After the bifurcation of unified Andhra Pradesh, its successors Telangana and Andhra Pradesh had moved the Supreme Court challenging the KWDT’s allocation of shares.
  • Karnataka has argued that the dispute raised by Andhra Pradesh and Telangana was between them and did not concern it.
  • The court had noted that several years had elapsed since the KWDT pronounced its modified final report and order.


  • Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT): In 1969, KWDT was set up under the Inter-State River Water Dispute Act, 1956, and presented its report in 1973.
  • Second KWDT: Instituted in 2004. It delivered its report in 2010, which made allocations of the Krishna water at 65 % dependability and for surplus flows as follows: 81 TMC for Maharashtra, 177 TMC for Karnataka, and 190 TMC for Andhra Pradesh.
  • After the KWDT’s 2010 report: Andhra Pradesh challenged it through a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court in 2011.
  • Creation of Telangana: After the creation of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh has asked that Telangana be included as a separate party at the KWDT and that the allocation of Krishna waters is reworked among four states, instead of three.

Constitutional Provisions:

  • Article 262 of the Constitution provides for the adjudication of inter-state water disputes.
  • Under this, Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution and control of waters of any inter-state river and river valley.
  • The Parliament has enacted two laws, the River Boards Act (1956) and the Inter-State Water Disputes Act (1956).
  • The River Boards Act provides for the establishment of river boards by the Central government for the regulation and development of inter-state river and river valleys.
  • The Inter-State Water Disputes Act empowers the Central government to set up an ad hoc tribunal for the adjudication of a dispute between two or more states in relation to the waters of an inter-state river or river valley.
  • Neither the Supreme Court nor any other court is to have jurisdiction in respect of any water dispute which may be referred to such a tribunal under this Act.

Way Forward

  • Permanent tribunal : The water disputes can be solved only by having a permanent tribunal with appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court established over the tribunal’s decision.
  • An amendment to Article 262 and to Inter-State Water Disputes Act and its implementation at an equal note.
  • Rethinking our strategy about water management, not just within states, but at the national level keeping the water scenario in the next 30 years is the need of the hour.
  • Channels of communication need to be improved to gain consensus.