Krishna Waters dispute

Telangana reverses position, decides to attend Krishna River Management Board meeting with Andhra Pradesh on September 1

Published : August 28, 2021 23:05 IST

Sunrise in fog as seen on the river bed of the Krishna, at Kanakadurgamma Varadhi in Vijayawada. Photo: RAJU V.

After weeks of posturing, the Telangana government has decided to attend the forthcoming, 14th meeting of the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB).

After weeks of posturing, the Telangana government has decided to attend the forthcoming, 14th meeting of the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB). The meeting was originally scheduled for August 27 but the KRMB postponed it to September 1. This would be the first meeting of the KRMB Telangana would be attending since the contentious July 15 gazette notification issued by the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti defining the jurisdiction of the KRMB and the Godavari River Management Board.

Sources close to Telangana Chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao said the State’s Irrigation department officials will raise concerns on key issues such as allocation of the Krishna waters among the riparian States, the opposition to the State’s hydel power generation from Srisailam, and its objections to irrigation projects launched by Andhra Pradesh in the Krishna basin. Telangana has asserted that power generation from Srisailam was perfectly legal since it was originally conceived as a hydro-electric project.

Telangana has repeatedly urged the KRMB to stop Andhra Pradesh from going ahead with schemes such as the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme (RLIS) and the Veligonda and the Handri Neeva Sujala Sravanthi (HNSS) irrigation projects. Telangana’s contention is that under the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-1 (Bachawat Tribunal Award) diversion of water outside the basin is not allowed and that any such diversion was also a violation of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.

Telangana insists that allocation of Krishna river water should be in the 50:50 ratio until the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-II (Brijesh Kumar Tribunal Award) finalises the share of each State. Andhra Pradesh opposes this and insists that there is no question of compromising on its stand that the KRMB must allocate water in a 70:30 ratio. At present, the water is shared in a 66:34 ratio.

Telangana has accused Andhra Pradesh of going against the spirit of both the Bachawat and Brijesh Kumar tribunal awards. On August 27, Telangana’s Engineer-in-Chief (Irrigation) C. Muralidhar wrote to the KRMB faulting Andhra Pradesh for its HNSS irrigation project accusing that State of diverting water from Srisailam outside the basin. Accusing the previous Andhra Pradesh government of unauthorisedly taking up the project, Muralidhar sought to highlight the fact that the Krishna basin, which is a deficit basin, would suffer from severe scarcity of water if Andhra Pradesh’s schemes were allowed to go ahead.

Commenting on diversion of water outside the basin, Muralidhar said: “[Andhra Pradesh’s] works were not stalled. Moreover, several news GOs were issued by the Andhra Pradesh government to expand the canal capacity from 3,850 cusecs to 6,300 cusecs. All these diversions will certainly affect the needs of the Krishna basin areas of Telangana from Srisailam and Nagarjuna Sagar. The3,850 cusecs diversion is illegal and against the provisions of the KWDT-1 (Bachwat award). Taking up further enhancements is untenable and should not be allowed.”