SC panel on Babli Project

Three-member panel to monitor drawal of water
Maharashtra can draw only 2.75 tmc sft
AP loses case for removal of project

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday has set up a three-member committee to monitor the utilisation of the Godavari water in the Babli Project in Maharashtra. The committee will comprise one member each from Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and the Central Water Commission (CWC). The order of the Supreme Court comes as a setback for Andhra Pradesh, as the state had been arguing that Babli Project was illegal and it should be removed. The Supreme Court has disallowed the plea of Andhra Pradesh and allowed the Babli Project. However, it has created a mechanism to ensure that there is no over-drawal of water by Maharashtra than what it had sought, that is 2.74 tmc ft.

At the same time, the Supreme Court has also directed from March onwards, when summer sets in, 0.6 tmc ft water should be given to Andhra Pradesh to meet the drinking water requirement. The three-member panel will not only monitor that there is no overdrawing of water over and above 2.74 tmc ft, but it will also monitor the implementation the Godavari Tribunal Award of 1974-75.

The order of the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court was pronounced by Justice R M Lodha, with the other two judges being Justice T S Thakur and Justice Anil Ramesh Dave. Arguments had concluded on November 8, 2012, when it was reserved for verdict.

The Supreme Court said the Babli Project cannot be removed, as the project has already been built. It may be recalled that earlier, during the hearings, the Supreme Court bench had posed a question to Andhra Pradesh Government whether it would take over Babli Project by paying up the project cost to Maharashtra government. In fact, that would not have served any purpose for Andhra Pradesh, as the Babli Project is located in Maharashtra.

However, since it involved the question of checking illegal use of Godavari waters by Maharashtra over and above the 2.74 tmc ft water it sought for drinking water purposes, the Supreme Court directed Maharashtra to abide by its undertaking that it will not resort to overdrawing water from the Godavari. Maharashtra’s argument was that it had built Babli with 2.74 tmc ft storage capacity for drinking water purposes

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