Apex court can’t hear river dispute, says Maharashtra

March 25th, 2008 - 10:57 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) The Maharashtra government told the Supreme Court Tuesday that the apex court was not the right forum to adjudicate on Andhra Pradesh’s objection to a barrage being built on the Godavari river as it was a river water dispute and should be dealt with by a tribunal. Senior counsel for Maharashtra T.R. Andhyarjuna told the apex court that the matter related to a river water dispute, which according to the constitution has to be dealt with by a rivers water tribunal set up by the central government.

His arguments came as the Supreme Court began hearing a lawsuit by Andhra Pradesh against construction of the Babhli barrage by Maharashtra on the Godavari river. Andhra Pradesh fears the barrage would reduce the water flow into the state.

The lawsuit came up for hearing before the bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and Aftab Alam.

Andhyarjuna said the construction of the barrage was not in violation of either the 1975 agreement on sharing of the Godavari river water between the two states or the ruling of the Godavari Water Tribunal.

Andhra Pradesh has objected to the barrage construction, claiming that it violated the two agreements.

Allaying Andhra Pradesh’s fears that the barrage would impede water flow to it, Andhyarjuna said he Babhli barrage would have a storage capacity of only 0.60 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of water, in lieu of which the state was willing to release additional water to Andhra Pradesh.

The apex court would continue hearing Maharashtra’s arguments Wednesday.

The Godavari originates from the Sahyadri mountain ranges off the western coast of Maharashtra and after meandering its way through the state, enters Andhra Pradesh.

According to Andhra Pradesh, the Babhli barrage intrudes into the water storage area of Pochampad dam, also known as Shri Ram Sagar Project, built by Andhra Pradesh.

Seventy-one km of the 126 km-long water storage area of the Shri Ram Sagar Project is in Andhra Pradesh, while 55 km is in Maharashtra. It is owing to this that the Babhli barrage intrudes into the water storage area of Shri Ram Sagar Project.

In its petition, Andhra Pradesh has contended that if Maharashtra is allowed to complete the barrage, a part of the water stored in the Shri Ram Sagar Project would flow back into the Babhli barrage.

When Andhra Pradesh’s lawsuit first came up for hearing, the apex court April 26 last year ruled that Maharashtra could construct the barrage at its own risk but it may have to demolish it if the court’s verdict went against it.

However, it stopped Maharashtra from installing 13 gates on the barrage.

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