Water Sharing Crisis Boils Over

Rains nowhere in sight, and water levels receding in the dams, newly formed Telangana and Andhra Pradesh squabble over sharing of Krishna river water.

Published: 06th July 2014 07:29 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th July 2014 07:41 AM   |  A+A-

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HYDERABAD: With South West Monsoon playing truant and water levels in reservoirs touching rock bottom, both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments have stepped up their claims for whatever little water that is available.

The Telangana government appears determined not to release 10 tmcft water to the Prakasam Barrage in Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh contending that the water is being used for irrigation purpose and not to fulfil drinking needs.

An exasperated Andhra Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu lashed out at his Telangana counterpart K Chandrasekhar Rao for making an issue out of nothing. “It has been a tradition to release water to Prakasam Barrage for Krishna delta. Even in AP Reorganisation Act 2014, there is provision for 10 tmcft water for drinking purpose,” Naidu said.

The first signs of trouble became visible on June 24 when Telangana government expressed its reluctance to release water to Prakasam Barrage from Nagarjuna Sagar Project. The order for release of water was given by a committee of experts constituted by the governor in March when the state was under President’s rule. On the appointed day—June 24—Telangana government did not honour the order contending that it was an order issued by an ad hoc committee when there was no elected government. Now that there is one, it would take a fresh look at the demand of the Andhra government.

With Aandhra government crying foul, Central Water Commission (CWC) chairman A B Pandya rushed to Hyderabad, and after taking stock of the situation issued an interim order that 3.6 tmcft be release from Nagarjuna Sagar Project at the rate of 6,000 cusecs till July 1. As the volume has been reduced to 3.6 tmcft from 10 tmcft, the Telangana government consented though grudgingly. The CWC chairman had said at the end of the deadline, a review could be done.

On July 1, the Krisna Water Manager Board, which was constituted in the meanwhile and for which Pandya is the chairman, issued an order for continuation of release of 6,000 cusecs of water from NSP for another week. The board in its order said that though 3.7 tmcft was released at Prakasam Barrage, very little water was received because a lot of water was held up at Pulichintala project which is in between NSP and Prakasam Barrage as there was insufficient head.

The Telangana government took a strong objection to it and even stopped water discharge for sometime but finally fell in line. But before releasing it again, the government shot off a strongly worded letter to the CWC and the Krishna Board that it should not take unilateral decisions without discussing them in the board which has representation from both the states.

Accordingly, the CWC and the Board had decided to have a meeting of the board either on July 6 or 7 to take a call on whether water release from NSP to Prakasam Barrage be allowed or not for another week.

Telangana leaders point out that Krishan water is source for drinking water for Hyderabad, Rangareddy and Nalgonda districts. Alimineti Madhava Reddy canal supplies water from NSP to these Telangana districts and for its pumps to work, the water level in NSP should not go below 510 ft. At present it is 514 ft and if water is allowed to be released for Praksam Barrage, very soon it might become difficult to pump water to Hyderabad and Nalgonda.

Telgangana leaders argue that 10 tmcft water is more than enough to meet the drinking needs of Andhra unless it is diverting it for irrigation purpose.

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