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Separate Telangana – Another water sharing tribunal needed ఆగస్ట్ 8, 2013

Posted by M Bharath Bhushan in ecology, Fazal Ali Commission, Godavari, Polavaram, submergence, Telangana.
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Telangana: Turbulence over water?
V. Rishikumar, Business Line 7 August, 2013

States sharing water has always been a prickly issue. How will Telangana fare?

There is a case for another water-sharing tribunal- Business Line

There is a case for another water-sharing tribunal- Business Line

Carving Telangana out of the riverine State of Andhra Pradesh and sharing water resources will be a tricky affair. It does not help that Andhra Pradesh is a lower riparian State, even as it has three major rivers.

A Group of Ministers will be constituted to chart a way forward on sharing water, power, mineral resources and infrastructure, among other things.

Anything to do with water raises passions in Telangana, drought-prone Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra.

Even in the unified State, where more than 70 per cent of the population is dependent on agriculture, the issue of water availability has been central to arriving at an understanding on resource sharing between the three regions.

RIVER BLESSING

Andhra Pradesh is blessed with the three major river systems — Godavari, the Krishna and the Pennar — and about 40 medium and minor rivers. Their deltas play a big role in the State’s economy and contribute to the prosperity of various regions and districts.

In the 1950s, the Fazal Ali Commission — also known as the States Reorganisation Commission — had provided early insights into the importance of the Krishna and Godavari systems.

Since then, the issue of water-sharing began to take concrete shape with the formation of the Krishna and Godavari water tribunals and their awards.

The Krishna, the third biggest river in peninsular India, irrigates Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. According to the tribunal award, Maharashtra gets 560 thousand million cubic feet (TMC ) of water, Karnataka 700 TMC and Andhra Pradesh 811 TMC.

Of the 811 TMC that the lower riparian State of Andhra Pradesh gets from the Krishna, it has managed to complete projects that help harness the potential of about 759 TMC; the rest is sought to be tapped with new projects.

The Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar dams are central to the Krishna river in Andhra Pradesh. In the case of the Godavari, Andhra Pradesh has been allocated 1,480 TMC of which about 690 TMC is utilised and more than 742 TMC planned to be harnessed through new projects.

HYDEL POWER

The gradient of the Krishna enabled two large multipurpose dams to impound water (Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar) and play a crucial role in hydel power generation.

However, the Godavari river system is less easy to tap. The topography of the Deccan Plateau is such that it requires massive lifting capacity to make use of the water for irrigation projects in most districts in the Telangana region.

Lift irrigation projects also require huge power generation. The East and West Godavari districts lying downstream of the Godavari have been the major beneficiaries of the river thus far.

The Indirasagar Polavaram project is being implemented to address these problems.

Apart from helping several districts with an additional 7 lakh acres of ayacut, which is the area irrigated by a canal, dam or tank, the project seeks to stabilise about 10 lakh acres of the Godavari delta and 13 lakh acres of the Krishna delta by interlinking the rivers. It is also proposed to help generate about 960 MW of hydel power.

The project, now under various phases of execution, faces the hurdles in the form of land acquisition, submergence in neighbouring Odisha and Chhattisgarh, and opposition from the people in Telangana. Settling these issues will be a tough call for those seeking to ensure equitable sharing of water resources. Even as of now, there is resentment in Telangana and Rayalseema over water-sharing.

Since Andhra Pradesh is a lower riparian State, a lot depends on whether Maharashtra and Karnataka stick to the tribunal award. A new tribunal has been formed under Brijesh Kumar to address some of these issues.

BIG CHALLENGE

The issues of raising the height of the Almatti dam in Karnataka and Maharashtra’s Babhali barrage hampering the flow of water have been worrying Andhra Pradesh and the matter has been taken to court.

“It is not so much the issue of the tribunal or its award. It is about understanding the importance of water as a resource. Then everything falls in place.

HARNESSING THE SURPLUS

In Europe, for instance, sovereign states sit across the table and resolve issues relating to water resources. Can’t we do so here?” a senior government functionary said. Can we harness the potential of surplus water better?

The effort is now under way with a majority of the 54 major irrigation projects having been taken up with an outlay of Rs 70,000-80,000 crore solely aimed at tapping surplus waters. These include the mega Rs 38,500 crore Pranahitha-Chevella project that seeks to change the structure of Telangana. Efforts are also on to seek national status for the project.

Factoring the behavioural patterns of the monsoon, rain in catchment areas, and flood patterns over the years, certain formulae for water release have been worked out.

These help decide on the height to which water has to be impounded and then released for drinking first and irrigation purposes next, region-wise.

Can smart grids help address water management better? Yes, of course.

But systems are in place to optimise the use of water using gauges of the Central Water Commission, State irrigation and those of the dams.

Even as the issue of Telangana is being resolved, there have been a number of protests over the issue of release of water for drinking and irrigation purposes.

Rayalaseema and Telangana, in particular, feel the most aggrieved.

In fact, those dependent on the Krishna delta were also affected as they did not have adequate supply to take up agriculture.

The resource-rich State has seen crop holidays for a couple of seasons.

Now, with the move to create Telangana, the issue of water allocation will become central to the discussion.

While the GoM may sit and decide on ways to allocate water judiciously, there is a case for another tribunal to ensure water allocation. Significantly, it will also open up issues with Odisha and Chhattisgarh on pending projects.

Source: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/telangana-turbulence-over-water/article4999942.ece

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