TS shying away from water war with AP?

TS shying away from water war with AP?
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TS shying away from water war with AP?

Highlights

The agitation for separate Telangana was based on three aspects, Neellu (Water) Nidhulu (allocation of budget) and Niyamakalu (Jobs)

The agitation for separate Telangana was based on three aspects, Neellu (Water) Nidhulu (allocation of budget) and Niyamakalu (Jobs). The agitation fought on these three issues virtually forced then Congress government at Centre to create the 29th state. It is now over seven years since the new State has been formed but there appears to be no logical conclusion to the water war between the two sibling states Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

The Rajoli Banda Diversion Scheme which was one of the main issues during the agitation for separate Telangana State continues to be a bone of contention between the two Telugu States. Like many other issues, the Centre did not bother to address this issue in the AP State Reorganisation Act and as a result, the farmers under RDS canal are being denied their rightful share of water to reach Gadwal district. It is a different matter that it had failed to implement many of the issues that were listed in the Reorganisation Act.

Due to this, farmers under the RDS canal in Gadwal district are still awaiting for their rightful share of water to reach their fields even more than seven years after Telangana State was formed. Though the political executive keeps claiming that it will fight for its just share, Andhra Pradesh government has been going ahead with canal works. Barring occasional noise and that too when farmers raised the issue, the State government could not restrict its friendly neighbouring State from going ahead with the works till Krishna River Management Board resolved the issue.

All that we hear are statements like Brijesh Kumar Tribunal order has not yet been operationalised," "AP cannot go ahead with its works. The canal works were neither approved by the Central Water Commission (CWC) nor Krishna River Management Board (KRMB). And all those who make such noises add that Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao will take appropriate measures to protect the interests of the State and the farmers etc.

The dispute has a history of decades. The RDS is crucial for Telangana, as it was meant to irrigate about 87,000 acres in the State and 4,000 acres in AP. Telangana was allocated 15.9 TMC from the RDS but for decades it was getting only five TMC of water on an average. Officials say the reduced inflow is on account of leakages. Located on river Tungabhadra, it caters to water requirements of three states, Telangana, Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh and Raichur district of Karnataka.

Now with AP going ahead with construction of a parallel canal, farmers say that TS would not get even this five TMC of water and this would adversely affect the interests of farmers of Gadwal district in particular. Andhra Pradesh proposes to utilise 5 TMC of water once the 160 km long canal works were over.

The right canal is being constructed across Tungabhadra on the upstream of Rajolibanda project. The project would help in diverting Krishna water for irrigation in Kurnool district and Tungabhadra water would be diverted to new reservoirs under RDS right main canal. The AP government has taken up the project to provide irrigation facility to five lakh acres.

The TS government and its ministers say that the sibling state has been going ahead with the works though there is no agreement between Telangana, Andhra and Karnataka. They also claim that they will fight for justice and right share of Tungabhadra waters. But this has not stopped Andhra Pradesh from putting the works on fast track while TS continues to make noise and watch silently.

The TS Government of course had filed a Special Leave Petition in Supreme Court. The apex court stayed the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal order to utilise 4 TMC of water by AP for the purpose.

The Telangana government pointed out that the right canal would deprive the farmers of Alampur assembly segment in the old Mahbubnagar. Once the project is completed, nearly 85,000 acres of farm land would be deprived of irrigation water in Jogulamba Gadwal district.

If we take a look at the history of RDS, in 1944 , the then Madras and Hyderabad state governments came up with RDS scheme( 15 TMC) for Telangana and KC Canal for Andhra to utilise Tungabhadra waters. There was no RDS left and right canals in the proposals. After the formation of Andhra Pradesh the united AP government had come up with the concept of RDS right canal for AP and left canal for Telangana.

The original RDS had only one canal which emanates from left side of anicut in Karnataka on river Tungabhadra. The anicut is located at the border of Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh and Raichur in Karnataka. The left canal passes through Karnataka for 43 kms and flows into Telangana for about 100 kms. This canal is supposed to meet the requirements of farmers in 87, 500 acres with 15.9 TMC water in Telangana and 5,900 acres in Karnataka using 1.2 TMC of water. While all this is on paper, the reality is that Telangana for decades had not been getting more than 5 TMC of water.

But Andhra Pradesh government claims that Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal -2 (Brijesh) had allocated 4 TMC in 2013 and accordingly the AP government was constructing the right main canal under which four reservoirs and gravity canal.

After the formation of the new state, Telangana Government complained to Central Water Commission against the AP's RDS right canal. The TS government said that the Tummilla, Garlapadu, Budamarsu and Madduru lift schemes constructed on Tungabhadra will get dried up once the RDS right main canal becomes operational.

The 160 km long canal would finally be aligned with Gajuladinne Project. The Andhra Pradesh government has earmarked about Rs 2000 crore for the project and claims that it is well withing its right to construct the canal to meet the water requirements of farmers of Rayalaseema region.

While this is the ground situation, the Telangana government has not taken any concrete steps to see that the Andhra Pradesh government does not go ahead with the project till the Tribunal gives its award and the case which is pending in Supreme Court was cleared. All that it thunders now and then is that "AP cannot go ahead with its works, as the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal order has not yet been operationalised."

The latest decision of the Telangana government after a meeting the Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had with officials was that they should once again lodge a complaint with the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB), the Central Water Commission (CWC) and the Apex Council of the Union ministry of Jal Shakti against the AP government and ensure that Andhra Pradesh suspends these works.

But what is baffling the people is why both states had suspended the dialogue on this issue. Unlike in the past, after the last general elections, both Chief Ministers had met many times and a friendly atmosphere was created and both assured to see that the interests of Telugus in both the states would be well protected. But then all this too seems to have ended with statements. The TS government did not stop the AP government from going ahead with the canal works. The big question now is once the 160 km long canal works are over, is there anything one can do?

Karnataka Government had constructed several project upstream of river Krishna and despite raising objections, the Almatti Dam also became a reality. May be the same will happen once again.

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