Karnataka move to raise Almatti dam height rings alarm bells in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana

Karnataka government has also decided to raise the height of the Almatti dam from the present 519.60 metres to 524.256 metres.

Published: 07th February 2017 02:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th February 2017 08:35 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

VIJAYAWADA/HYDERABAD: Water war between Andhra Pradesh and its neighbour Karnataka is likely to be revived with the latter  deciding to construct four lift irrigation projects on river Krishna and the State government, taking a serious view of the same, all set to lodge a complaint with the Union Water Resources Ministry. Telangana, which too stands to be affected, is moving to knock on the Centre's doors. 

Karnataka has decided to increase the height of the Almatti dam from 519.60 metres to 524.256 and construct four lift irrigation projects as part of the stage-3 of Upper Krishna River Project.  It means lower riparian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana will be left with very little water. The prospect of reduced inflow of river Krishna, the lifeline of farmers in the State, and which slakes the thirst of several districts, has had the government worried.

Devineni Umamaheswara Rao, Water Resources Minister, told Express it was not proper on the part of the Karnataka government to go ahead with four more lift irrigation projects at this juncture when  the issue of river water sharing was still pending before the Supreme Court. “We will lodge a complaint with Union Minister of Water Resources and ensure that no injustice is done to the State,” he said. Farmers’ leaders like Y Nagendranath and irrigation experts like MVS Nagi Reddy cried foul over Karnataka’s move. “We saw what happened last year, when there were inflows in Krishna river with no rains in upper catchment areas. Now, if the height of the dam is increased and lifts constructed over the river, both Telugu states have to fight for water to meet their drinking water needs,” Nagi Reddy explained.

Nagendranath said they had feared a situation like this would arise when the proposal to increase the height of Almatti was first made. The issue was even explained to the Srikrishna Committee before bifurcation of the State, and it was asked to resolve inter-state river disputes first, he recalled. “Our worst fears are coming true. We have to fight for our rights with the Centre to prevent the state becoming a vast dryland,” he said.

Karnataka will be using 21 tmc assured waters above its original allocation of 670 tmc assured waters in Krishna river for the four lift irrigation projects. It intends to build lift irrigation projects at  Peerapur, Nandavadgi, Ramathal and Timmpaur. It has already constructed projects to use 670 tmc assured waters. Now, the 21 tmc is the extra share it will get due to the diversion of Godavari waters to the Krishna delta by the AP government through Polavaram.

According to the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal's order, the upper riparian states will get 80 tmc extra quota in Krishna river, after Polavaram project is completed. Accordingly, Karnataka will get 21 tmc, Maharashtra 14 tmc and the remaining 45 tmc will be used within AP above the Nagarjunasagar Project. 

The Telangana government has also decided to approach the Centre against Karnataka's move. Its contention is that the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal is as good as non-existent now. “Its final verdict is pending implementation due to the cases in the Supreme Court. There is a stay order on implementing its order. The order itself is yet to be notified. When this is the situation, Karnataka cannot increase the height of Almatti unilaterally,” an official in the TS irrigation department told Express.

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