Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Editorial, "INTER-STATE WATER DISPUTES," in LAW ANIMATED WORLD, 30 June 2016, Vol. 12: Part 1, No. 12 issue


have been, and are always, a serious headache in our country, at times giving rise to violent conflagrations between the ill-informed peoples of different provinces too [like the unfortunate Cauvery River Waters Disputes between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka], and have to be solved with utmost wisdom and delicate treatment. Now a disturbing situation may emerge in the two Telugu States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana over the several new irrigation projects announced by the power and publicity crazy TRS government without even information to, let alone consultation with, the neighboring AP, apart from in instances like the proposed Mallanna Sagar project, giving rise to intense agitation in Telangana itself. As Wikipedia reports, “Contrary to the political belief [“and chauvinist propaganda” – one may add], Telangana … the Land of Dams, Reservoirs, Lakes, Tanks and Canals … has the most number of Dams, Reservoirs, Lakes, Tanks and Canals than any other South Indian state.” The National Register of Large Dams India, updated 2014-2015, gives the figures of 182 dams in Telangana (with 20 still under construction) compared to 151 in Andhra Pradesh (24 still under construction). This is sought to be augmented by a spate of fresh projects, even without any Draft Project Reports prepared, and without even seeking the consent of the Central Water Commission, etc. That A.P. has commenced and is continuing certain projects in a like undesirable manner is no answer since a lower riparian State generally poses no or insignificant risk to water usages in upper riparian states. The AP Reorganization Act, 2014, [S. 84], moreover, makes it incumbent on the Union Government to constitute an Apex Council with Minister of Water Resources as Chairman and both the CMs as members, to consider and resolve any such water disputes, which [seems to have] not been formed so far. Anyway, two wrongs cannot right a thing and one has to mind that water, a ‘commodity’ becoming ‘scarcer’ with every passing day, has to be handled and shared in a tactful, democratic and consensual manner between different states of India, a quasi-federal polity, in which water sharing is generally viewed and judged in terms of international water disputes resolution treaties/norms, among which the relatively recent UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses 1997, sadly not accepted by India so far, can serve as an essential beacon-light.  §§§

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