Telangana writes to Krishna River Management Board for 50 per cent share in allocation of Krishna water until tribunal decides issue

Published : July 21, 2021 19:14 IST

A view of flood waters in the Krishna being released from Prakasam barrage in Vijayawada. A 2020 picture. Photo: K.V.S. GIRI

The Telangana government has written to the Chairman of the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) seeking, as an ad hoc measure, at least a 50 per cent share in the allocation of Krishna river waters for the 2021-22 water year. On July 3, following a high-level meeting, the Telangana government had declared its intention to use 50 per cent of Krishna river waters.

The letter from the K. Chandrashekar Rao-led Telangana government comes in the wake of the Central government issuing, under Section 87 of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, a gazette notification transferring to the KRMB and the Godavari River Management Board (GRMB) 107 major and medium irrigation projects in the Krishna and Godavari river basins. The two boards will, effective from October 14, be empowered to operate the headworks of barrages, dams, reservoirs, regulating structures, part of canal networks, transmission lines and the power houses at the 107 projects in the two river basins. Telangana opposed the Centre’s gazette notification, with the State’s Finance Minister, T. Harish Rao, terming it “an encroachment on the rights of Telangana”.

In its letter, Telangana pointed to the State’s acute and larger distress than the lower riparian State of Andhra Pradesh owing to the insufficient availability of water and pleaded with the KRMB that it follow an ad hoc water sharing formula in the 50:50 ratio for the 2021-22 water year and beyond, until the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal, or Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-II (KWDT-II), decided the issue.

The letter, written by Telangana’s Irrigation Engineer-in-Chief (General) C. Muralidhar, states: “As the Tribunal awards did not make project-wise specific allocation or prepare any operation protocol for common projects, an understanding has to be forged to share the water on an ad hoc ratio, on a year-on-year basis with Andhra Pradesh, pending finalisation of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-II Award.” Muralidhar’s letter also sought to highlight the fact that both the KWDT-I (Bachawat Tribunal) and KWDT-II emphasised that in-basin areas must be prioritised before water is allowed to be diverted to outside basin areas.

The Engineer-in-Chief (General) wrote: “It is pertinent to note that Andhra Pradesh has a large unapproved and unauthorised diversion capability of 4.7 thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft) per day from Srisailam and over 300 tmc ft of storage at the Pennar and other basins, where it can store such diverted water. Telangana has only a 0.28 tmc ft per day capacity, that too through lifting.” Muralidhar drew the attention of the KRMB Chairman to the stated position of Telangana Chief Minister Chandrashekar Rao, who has opposed Krishna waters being diverted outside its basin by Andhra Pradesh, more so while the in-basin parched lands of Telangana were craving for water.

In 2014, after the formation of the two Telugu States, of the 811 tmc ft of water allocated to undivided Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were sharing water in the 34:66 ratio (299 tmc ft and 512 tmc ft respectively). However, in its latest letter to the Chairman, KRMB, Telangana has declared that vis-à-vis Andhra Pradesh it is entitled to an allocation that is in the 70.8:29.2 ratio. Telangana said it based its demand on parameters such as catchment area, cultivable area, drought-prone area and population.

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