HYDERABAD: Even as the two Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are exploring the possibilities of diverting Godavari waters to Krishna at Nagarjuna Sagar to ensure irrigation facility to Rayalaseema and parts of Telangana, the Centre has its own plans of taking about 250 tmcft of Godavari waters to Cauvery via Nagarjuna Sagar.
This is despite Telangana making it clear way back in January 2018 that the Centre should think of any project to divert Godavari waters only after fulfilling the needs of the new State. The then Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao, while making a presentation to Nitin Gadkari who was Water Resources Minister then, said that TS should get 1,500 to 1,600 mtcft water from both Godavari and Krishna.
Even though the Telangana had made its stand clear, the Centre has firmed up its plan to divert water from Janampet in erstwhile Khammam district — using pipelines, tunnels and lifts for a distance of 238 km — to Nagarjuna Sagar and now the Cabinet has to take a call on the proposal. Its cost, which was originally `60,000 crore, had shot up to more than Rs 80,000 crore.
In January this year, Gadkari had said that the Centre would raise a loan from World Bank or ADB for taking up the project. He said the project was intended to divert Godavari waters, which are joining the Bay of Bengal and going waste, to Cauvery in Tamil Nadu.
A State subject
While the Centre was finalising its plans, the CMs of both AP and Telangana YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and K Chandrasekhar Rao met recently in Hyderabad and discussed the economics of taking Godavari waters to Krishna and from there to Srisailam. They also wanted land acquisition to be restricted to the barest minimum. The two CMs reportedly felt that Rayalaseema would need about 200 tmcft while Telangana, about 150 tmcft. The cost of the project is estimated to be about `80,000 crore.
As the Centre prepares its plan for diversion of Godavari water to Cauvery since it does not want Karnataka, where the BJP is in power, to part with water to Tamil Nadu, the leaders of the two Telugu States are expected to put their foot firmly down as water is essentially a State subject.
On the face of it, Godavari, which courses through both Telugu States, would have to part with 250 tmcft for Tamil Nadu even though their water needs are yet to be addressed. The Centre argues that the project would be beneficial to AP and Telangana as it would provide irrigation facility to Guntur, Prakasam and Nellore in AP and Nalgonda, Warangal and Khammam in Telangana, but it looks as though it is only a ploy to get its plans through.
What should not be lost sight of is that the 250 tmcft water to be diverted to Nagarjuna Sagar from the Godavari is meant for Cauvery. But this is not what the of AP and TS CMs want. They want to take water to Nagarjuna Sagar and from there to Srisailam through reverse pumping to help Rayalseeam and Telangana draw water from there.
Jagan is apparently keen on ensuring water to Rayalaseema. About 200 tmcft water would suffice its needs. Similarly, KCR is keen on providing enough water to Palamuru project apart from stabilising ayacut under SLBC. Even though the Centre is coming up with its grandiose plan to link the Godavari with Cauvery, it has not yet taken it up with neither TS nor AP. It is strange that the Centre and AP & TS are working on more or less similar projects. The best way probably is that the Centre should involve both the States and see that their requirements are met first and then think of what it should do with remaining water.