The brainstorming by the brass of irrigation sector in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh here on Thursday and Friday centred around challenges thrown by the States against each other on implementation of irrigation projects cutting into the share of other’s water in Krishna and Godavari rivers.
The negotiations took place at the meetings of Krishna and Godavari river management boards which are advisory bodies appointed under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act to resolve river water disputes between the two States after formation of separate Telangana. The boards work under the administrative control of Ministry of Water Resources and answerable to an Apex Council headed by the Union Minister for Water Resources. The chief ministers of both States are its members.
The boards were mandated under the Act to ensure that the States did not ground any new project after formation of Telangana State without the prior approval of the Apex Council. The States must first appraise the respective river management boards and the Central Water Commission and then seek the sanction of the council for new projects. However, the States have been challenging each other for last six years that new projects were grounded without taking the boards into confidence.
Telangana submitted a list of 15 new projects taken up by AP on the Krishna river. AP listed out five projects in Telangana and enhancement of scope of three more projects. On Godavari, AP complained about nine new projects in Telangana without the approval of Apex Council while the latter staked claim for pro-rata distribution of 45 tmc ft water diverted in AP from Godavari to Krishna basin.
The meetings ended with the boards seeking detailed project reports for all the new projects in the two States so much so that it also fixed a deadline of June 10 for the ones on Godavari.
What stood out in the deliberations was exemption sought by AP from scrutiny for projects constructed before formation of Telangana State but the latter insisted that they should also be covered because the Statehood movement was all about deprivation of the region in funds, water and jobs. Telangana denied taking up any new projects as the government only reengineered some of them to take water to irrigate areas where farmers were distressed. Both sides stuck to their stands they utilised water well within their allocated share in two rivers.
For instance, Principal Secretary of Irrigation Rajat Kumar said the State was entitled to 243 tmc ft of Godavari water from Sriramsagar and Nizamsagar projects but what it got every year was not more than 40 to 50 tmc ft. Both projects were supposed to irrigate ayacut by gravity but the State government, at great cost, lifted water from Kaleshwaram to serve their areas.
The argument of Telangana was countered by AP on the ground that reengineering was alright but the quantity of water as allocated must be maintained. The agreed quantities for AP and Telangana in Krishna as per State Reorganisation Act 66 : 34 ratio is 980 tmc ft while it is project-wise distribution already made out of a total quantity of 1,400 tmc ft in Godavari.