In putting restrictions on power generation at Srisailam and limiting the use of water till Nov 2, the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) has exceeded its brief. The Telangana state is utilising the waters allocated to it and it has not even exceeded the quota of water allocated to it.
The Srisailam project, exclusively meant for hydro-power production, envisaged 900 MW of power generation through left canal and 770 MW through right canal. Not a drop of water was meant for other purposes when the project was originally conceived. As such, Telangana has every right to generate power there.
Despite all efforts by the Telangana government, there is still power shortage in the state. If power is not supplied to farmers continuously and particularly when the crop is about to be harvested, it will have an adverse effect on them and lead to shortage of food grains. The average power demand per day in Telangana is 6,800 MW. Taking into consideration the actual production capacity as well as the central share of power, the availability of power is only about 4,500 MW.
To fill the gap, the Telangana government is buying power on a daily basis through power exchange averaging about 760 MW. Yet, there is shortage of power. The available hydel in TS is about 1,000 MW, of which 700 to 800 MW comes from Srisailam. Thus, this power from Srisailam is vital to Telangana.
AP wants priority given to drinking and irrigation water. This is a baseless argument. When the Srisailam project was conceived and built, not even one tmcft of water was allocated for irrigation. Later, an argument was put forward that the Krishna frequently gets floods, excess water is available there and flood water is in abundance. Following this argument and for utilising the water, the then state government had planned to build projects. Accordingly, the concept of right to utilise excess water from Srisailam has come. Subsequently, keeping aside the concept of excess water and flood waters, a wrong interpretation has slowly been put into circulation that Srisailam is an irrigation project.
It was decided to allocate water from Srisailam reservoir for various projects. As per the decision, 19 tmcft for KC Canal and 15 tmc for Telugu Ganga are to be released, which means 34 tmc of water has to go to AP. Similarly, 25 tmc was allotted to Kalwakurthy, 20 tmc to Bheema, 22 tmc to Nettampadu and 30 tmc to SLBC _ a total of 97 tmcft to TS. But during the Seemandhra rule Telangana projects did not take shape and Telangana could never utilise the 97 tmcft of water. Though only 34 tmcft was allocated to AP, they built Pulichintala, Pothireddypadu and Handri-Niva and illegally diverted Srisailam waters to those projects. This exploitation is still going on.
Telangana could not use even the water to which it had a right but Andhra, though without right, is using Srisailam water. This year also Andhra government illegally diverted 60 tmcft of Srisailam water while not even 10 tmc was utilised in Telangana for irrigation projects.
As per GO No.107, there has to be 854 ft of water level in the Srisailam reservoir. The Chandrababu government had issued GO No.69 saying that a level of 834 ft is enough. The Telangana government has not violated either of the GOs. The Srisailam reservoir even now has a level of 857 tmc.
If one goes by the views of AP government and KRMB, irrigation is priority. Let us agree to this view for argument’s sake. Telangana is utilising Srisailam water for producing power which, in turn, is used to pump water for irrigation. Only when there is power can water come from borewells. Through pump sets about 40 lakh acres of land is cultivated. With the small volume of Srisailam water Telangana is drawing, several times that could be provided for irrigation to the lands. Telangana is producing power using the same water. It should, therefore, be construed that the water drawn from Srisailam is only for the purpose of irrigation.
(The author is CPRO to Telangana CM)