Krishna Water Dispute Between Telugu States Escalates

Governments of Telugu Speaking states — Andhra Pradesh and Telangana — have been engulfed in a dispute over river Krishna water sharing as the Andhra Pradesh government has proposed construction of Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme (RLIS) on the river through a government order.

While Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Tuesday urged the central government to lift the embargo on the proposed project, last week, Telangana government approached the Supreme Court opposing the construction of the project.

RLIS is planned to draw 3 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) Krishna water every day from Pothireddypadu Head Regulatory Scheme from Srisailam reservoir. The main contention from the Telangana government has been that the project is in contravention of Section 84 of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, and that such projects can only be initiated after the approval of Apex Council which is headed by Union Water Resources Minister and has the chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as members.

In his letter to Union Water Resources Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Mr Jagan stated that their government was “neither creating any new ayacut nor any new canal or new storage under the lift scheme but taking up this supplementing scheme to only draw water at a level of 800 feet connecting to the existing canal to meet the drinking and irrigation needs of the critically and chronically drought-prone areas of Rayalaseema, Nellore and Prakasam districts well within its allocation, as Pothireddypadu Head Regulatory Scheme could not draw any water below the reservoir level of 854 feet.”

He added that they are only intending to utilise the water as per the provisions of AP Reorganisation Act.

Telangana’s Irrigation Minister Harish Rao had earlier said in a press statement that the construction of RLIS is a unilateral decision of Andhra Pradesh and goes against the agreement reached by the two state governments in the first Apex Council meeting in 2016 according to which only existing projects can be continued and any new project needs the consent of the Council.

Furthermore, in July, Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) has written to the Andhra Pradesh government to not go ahead with RLIS until appraised by the Central Water Commission (CWC) or the board, and the Apex Council.

While the Union Water Resources Minister had earlier planned for an Apex Council Meeting inviting the two governments, the Telangana government urged him to postpone the meeting till August 20.

Experts opine that the next Apex Council meeting will be crucial as the Supreme Court may also ask the Apex Council to resolve the issue.

Telangana is currently constructing four projects on Krishna: Palamuru-RangaReddy Lift Irrigation Scheme, Dindi Lift Irrigation scheme, Kalwakurthy Lift Irrigation scheme Phase II and water grid project.

Notably, both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh reportedly did not submit detailed project reports of the projects with KRMB and CWC.

Meanwhile, the main Opposition in Telangana, Congress, has been staging several protests claiming that the RLIS construction will inflict huge losses on the people of Telangana.

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