The Supreme Court asked Maharashtra Chief Secretary and three top officials why it should not launch contempt proceedings against them for installing gates at a barrage over the Godavari river in violation of its April 2007 order.
A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice B.S. Chauhan issued notices to Joseph, secretary V.V. Gaikwad, chief engineer B.N. Kandarphale and superintending engineer R.K. Netturkar of the water resources department, besides the owner of a Hyderabad-based private construction firm.
The move came on a lawsuit by the Andhra Pradesh government, which pointed out to the court that its neighbouring state has installed five gates at the Babhali barrage over the Godavari.
The apex court in April 2007 had prohibited the Maharashtra government from installing gates at the barrage on another lawsuit by the Andhra Pradesh government, which held that the execution of the project would impede the flow of the river water to its territory.
Though Maharashtra was building the barrage over Babhali, within its territory 10 km from the inter-state border, Andhra Pradesh had objected to the project as it was being built upon the water spread area of its own Pochampad (Sri Rama Sagar) project.
The reservoir of the Pochampad project had spread up to 55 km within Maharashtra but within the two banks of the Godavari and had not submerged any adjoining land.
As per an agreement between the two states before the Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal in October 1975, Andhra Pradesh had adequately compensated Maharashtra for the spread of its Pochampad water area in the territory of the neighbouring state.