HYDERABAD: “Mismanagement” of the Srisailam project has now left both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana facing the prospect of drinking water shortage this summer. This view was shared by the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB), which said: “In current water-year, the mismanagement of Srisailam reservoir has led to a critical condition, with even drinking water becoming unavailable for upcoming months of acute summer.”
KRMB officials, while blaming the sibling States, said that Srisailam reservoir stood at the historic low level of 803.4 feet with storage of mere 30.70 tmcft as on March 24, 2022. This critical situation has emerged despite the fact that inflow of current year (1,092 tmcft) had been much higher than the average annual inflows of last 10 years (690 tmcft). The major contributing factor leading to present critical condition has been the rampant operation of powerhouses by two States in violation of the directions given by KRMB, the Board officials felt.
They added that about 641 tmcft of water has been drawn by the two powerhouses, of which about 502 tmcft pertained to the period when Srisailam dam had stopped spilling over. Cascading effect was that about 501 tmcft of water was spilled downstream Prakasam barrage into the Bay of Bengal, of which substantial quantum would have been saved with better management of the Srisailam reservoir.
The situation of ‘bad competition’ for irrigation water has further compounded by the ‘free-for-all’ operation of powerhouses by two States.
In 2020-21, Telangana drew 218 tmcft of water to generate 1,217 million units in 201 days. In response to continuous operation of Telangana’s powerhouse, Andhra Pradesh also operated its powerhouse in tandem, drawing 200 tmcft of water to generate 1,146 million units in 183 days. The position taken by Telangana on the unrestricted hydro-power generation from Srisailam was contrary to the provisions of Tribunal’s report. However, the KRMB approved Telangana’s argument that AP was drawing more water than its allocation in Krishna river.
Presently, the gravity flow canal (through Pothireddypadu head regulator) and two lift schemes (Handri-Neeva LIS and Muchumarri LIS) se-rve the state of AP, while one lift scheme (Kalwakurthy LIS) serves the state of Telangana. In addition, the 215 tmcft capacity reservoir has two riverbed powerhouses of which one is with AP (770 MW) and the other is with TS (900 MW).
At the time of bifurcation, the annual drawl through gravity flow canal was deemed to be 34 tmcft, while the three lift schemes deemed to be surplus-based projects with no sh-are in the dependable flows.
Post bifurcation — and with the heightened competition for water between AP and Telangana — the drawls from Srisailam turned into an unchecked operation.
“The State of AP has been drawing water exceeding 34 tmcft from the gravity flow canal ostensibly including the surplus flows (e.g. 134 tmcft in 2020-21). Moreover, both States operate their lift schemes for the larger part of water-year, rather than for the short periods of flood (say, for about 60 days) when surplus water may go waste to the sea.
These lift schemes are thus encroaching upon the already earmarked dependable flows of the river (e.g. in 2020-21, Handri-Neeva, Muchumarri, and Kalwakurthy had operated for 246 days, 88 days, and 228 days respectively drawing a total quantum of 76 tmcft. Thus, the KRMB wanted both the States to take corrective measures and decided to discuss the Srisailam water utilisation at the Board meeting on Mary 6.
30.70 tmcft Water level as on March 24 803.4 feet
1,092 tmcft Inflows were
641 tmcft Drawn by powerhouses of both states
501 tmcftn Water flowing downstream into Bay of Bengal