The Ministry of Water Resources on Tuesday sought the State government’s suggestion on two or three convenient dates for Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao to attend a virtual meeting of the Apex Council to resolve river water disputes between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. However, the Chief Minister is yet to communicate his decision regarding the viable dates.
Not available till Aug. 20
The Ministry had earlier convened the meeting of the council on August 5 which Mr. Rao did not agree to as he was busy on that day with pre-scheduled programmes. Accordingly, it was postponed and Mr. Rao went ahead with presiding over a marathon meeting of the Cabinet which went on till 10.30 p.m. that day.
He suggested any other day after August 20 as the government had to work out a strategy for Independence Day celebrations in the meantime.
CM leaves for farmhouse
Accordingly, the State government was likely to convey the fresh dates for the meeting to the Centre after August 20 but a decision could not be taken on Wednesday as Mr. Rao had left for his farmhouse the previous evening.
The postponement of the Apex Council meeting had invited flak from the Congress and BJP which blamed Mr. Rao for not sparing time to participate in such an important event at a time when Andhra Pradesh was speedily executing the Rayalaseema lift-irrigation scheme by inviting tenders. They wondered what use the meeting would be after August 20 when the tenders would be finalised a day before.
In the meantime, the Krishna River Management Board had asked the Andhra Pradesh government on a complaint by Telangana to stop the project immediately as it did not have the sanction of the Apex Council. The board made it clear that even inviting tenders was in violation of provisions of AP Reorganisation Act.
AP nod to tenders
The Andhra Pradesh government gave the go ahead for tenders with a deadline of August 13 afternoon and finalising them on August 19 with the permission of the National Green Tribunal which had earlier stayed the project. The tender documents were submitted to the Judicial Preview Commission which uploaded the same on its website.
Following the tendering process, top officials of irrigation and finance departments of AP held talks with bankers to mobilise funds for the ₹ 3,825 crore project and complete it at the earliest. It was decided to launch the works in October.
The Ministry of Water Resources (Jal Shakti) had also asked both State governments to stop all new projects that did not have the appraisal by river water boards and the sanction of the Apex Council.
This will be the second meeting of the Apex Council as per the State reorganisation law. The Council has the Union Water Resources Minister and Chief Ministers of both States as members. The earlier one was held in September 2016 when Uma Bharti was the Union Minister.