[Editorial Analysis] Sharing during scarcity: On Krishna and Godavari River Management boards

Mains Paper 2: Governance
Prelims level: Krishna and Godavari River
Mains level: Water sharing disputes

Context:

• Despite being delayed, the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti’s gazette notification on the Krishna and Godavari River Management Boards’ jurisdiction over projects and assets in the domains of irrigation and hydropower is a positive step.

• To ensure prudent water use in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the two river boards can now govern, regulate, operate, and maintain 36 projects in the Krishna Basin and 71 in the Godavari.

Current status of legal battle:

• Although Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the Union Minister of Jal Shakti and the chairperson of the supreme council of the two river boards, had stated that the Centre would proceed with notifying the boards’ jurisdiction, it took nine months to see if a reluctant Telangana would follow suit.

• The seven-year-old State had argued that the notification should follow the completion of a tribunal on Krishna water sharing by the two States, which would broaden the scope of the existing Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal (KWDT)-II’s jurisdiction.

• Telangana had even filed a plea with the Supreme Court, but the Centre said it would only consider Telangana’s request if the state withdrew its suit, which it did.

• Telangana requested that its complaint be submitted to the existing Tribunal to avoid duplication of investigation.

Duty of legislative bodies :

• The Centre must now ensure that the empowered Boards operate fairly, as the Union government’s decision on matters pertaining to the two organisations’ jurisdiction would be final.

• Both states have their own reasons for pursuing additional water and electricity projects, citing the need for economic development in numerous locations.

• Rayalaseema is an arid region, and one of the factors that contributed to the bifurcation was dissatisfaction with the poor use of the two rivers in then-undivided Andhra Pradesh.

• Simultaneously, the two countries should concentrate on water and energy conservation, as well as enhancing the efficiency of irrigation programmes and hydroelectric dams.

Conclusion :

• Given the negative impact of the health crisis on the federal and state budgets, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh should examine these low-cost alternatives.

• The Centre should look into making the much-discussed concept of river basin organisations a reality after reviewing the experiences of the redesigned Boards.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the ‘Agriculture Infrastructure Fund’, consider the following statements:

1. It is a centrally sponsored scheme.

2. Only State Agencies/APMCs are eligible under this scheme.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: D

Explanation:

The Union Cabinet gave its approval to the various modifications in Central Sector Scheme of Financing Facility under ‘Agriculture Infrastructure Fund’.
• Eligibility has now been extended to State Agencies/APMCs, National and State Federations of Cooperatives, Federations of Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs) and Federations of Self Help Groups (SHGs).
• For APMCs, interest subvention for a loan upto Rs. 2 crore will be provided for each project of different infrastructure types e.g. cold storage, sorting, grading and assaying units, silos, et within the same market yard.
• The power has been delegated to Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare to make necessary changes with regard to addition or deletion of beneficiary in such a manner so that basic spirit of the scheme is not there.
• The period of financial facility has been extended from 4 to 6 years upto 2025-26 and overall period of the scheme has been extended from 10 to 13 upto 2032-33.

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