Battle between the two Telugu-speaking States over use of Krishna waters for hydel power generation escalates

Published : July 05, 2021 20:45 IST

Andhra Pradesh police personnel at the right bank of the Srisailam dam in Kurnool district on July 2. Photo: U. SUBRAMANYAM

 

There seems to be no end in sight to the stand-off between the two Telugu States, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, over the sharing of Krishna river waters and the generation of hydroelectricity, with the governments in both States hardening their respective stands. Both have now deployed armed police personnel at dams and power plants across the Krishna river and tightened security at their respective ends of the Nagarjuna Sagar and Pulichintala projects.

While Andhra Pradesh, which has repeatedly demanded that Telangana stop unilateral use of water from Srisailam reservoir for hydel power generation even before the water reached the minimum drawdown level (MDDL) at Pulichintala, has deployed its police personnel on its side of the border in Guntur district, Telangana has garrisoned the project on its side of the border in Suryapet district. With tempers fraying and statements flying thick and fast, Andhra Pradesh deployed over a hundred police personnel at the Pulichintala project.

Andhra Pradesh’s stand is that power generation from Srisailam and other projects, especially Pulichintala where the water level is just 20 tmcft, is not acceptable, especially when Telangana had not taken permission from the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB).

On July 1, a team of officials from the Andhra Pradesh Irrigation and Revenue Departments at Macherla, near Guntur on the Andhra Pradesh border, wanted to hand over a memorandum to the Telangana State Power Generation Corporation Limited (Genco) officials asking them to stop hydel power generation from units at Pulichintala and Nagarjunasagar, but were prevented from doing so by a posse of Telangana police personnel. Later, J. Ramesh Babu, Superintending Engineer of the Pulichintala project, reached the hydro-electrical power station located on the Telangana side and managed to submit a memorandum to Genco officials, appealing them to stop power generation to prevent wastage of water. C. Narayana Reddy, Andhra Pradesh Engineer-in-Chief, Irrigation, also wrote to the Member Secretary of the KRMB seeking an immediate suspension of power generation by Telangana at Srisailam, Nagarjunasagar and Pulichintala.

Notwithstanding Andhra Pradesh’s protests, Telangana continued to generate power at the Pulichintala project for the fifth consecutive day on July 3. Genco generates around 120 MW of power from four plants attached to the irrigation project. Officials told Frontline that Genco operates hydel units at the Srisailam, Nagarjunasagar, Pulichintala and Jurala projects and will enhance hydel power generation depending on the availability of water and inflows. Telangana has always contended that the Srisailam project was constructed for the generation of hydel power and not for irrigation.

Though Telangana has serious reservations over several of Andhra Pradesh’s irrigation projects on the Krishna, it is especially upset over the construction of the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Project (RLIP), which Telangana contends would harm its interests. The Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh had, in May 2020, given administrative sanction for the RLIP at a cost of Rs.3,829 crore. Telangana, much to Andhra Pradesh’s irritation, has complained to the KRMB and filed a case in the National Green Tribunal (NGT), demanding that Andhra Pradesh stop all work on the RLIP. Telangana irrigation officials have alleged that the Andhra Pradesh government has not stopped construction in the RLIP despite NGT and KRMB orders.

The Telangana government dashed off a strongly worded letter to the KRMB on July 5, rebutting Andhra Pradesh’s contention that hydel power generation by Telangana at Srisailam would affect its drinking and irrigation requirements. Telangana said Andhra Pradesh’s logic was “far from reality, misleading and without any justification”.

While Jagan Mohan Reddy has already taken the fight over the Krishna waters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking CISF cover for the State’s irrigation projects, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao is expected to meet Modi next week.

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