In a move that is bound to ruffle feathers in Karnataka, the Telangana government has strong objects to the Central Water Commission (CWC) clearing irrigation projects of Karnataka in the Krishna river basin.
Telangana’s objects are specific to the upper riparian State’s irrigations projects in the Upper Tunga and Upper Bhadra and it has demanded that the CWC immediately keep in abeyance the clearances that have already been given.
Originating in Maharashtra, the Krishna river passes through Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh before draining into the Bay of Bengal at Hamsaladeevi.
Telangana, which is already embroiled in a row with Andhra Pradesh over sharing the of the Krishna waters, is contending that the Tungabhadra basin contributes substantially to the flows in the Krishna and that the clearances given to two Karnataka would projects further reduce the inflows into the Krishna and jeopardise its own interests.
C. Muralidhar, Engineer-in-Chief of Telangana’s Command Area Development Department, has written a letter to the Director of Project Appraisal (South), CWC, pointing out that the Krishna is a current river basin and that the needs of the lower riparian States need to be considered before clearing projects in the upper riparian States. The Telangana government said that while it was not objecting to the sanction of national project status to any project of Karnataka’s, it was against the clearing of projects without first examining all the ramifications in the sharing of the Krishna waters between the riparian States, as laid down by the Krishna Water Disputes (Bachawat) Tribunal-I (KWDT-I) award.
Telangana is demanding that all clearances should also be kept in abeyance until the KWDT- II report is published.
Muralidhar stated in the letter: “The CWC has to examine all these inter-State aspects and tribunal reports in detail before considering clearances to these projects. But it did not examine several inter-State aspects related to allocations made by KWDT-I and subsequent developments during the proceedings before KWDT-II.
“There is a difference between allocation to all other sub-basins and Krishna-8 sub-basin by KWDT-I. It has assigned water to Karnataka on an en bloc basis with certain restrictions on utilisation in the K-8 sub-basin (Tungabhadra sub-basin) in which Upper Bhadra and Upper Tunga projects exist. Hence, the projects on Tungabhadra cannot be cleared by the CWC based on the reallocations and government orders issued by the government of Karnataka.”
Pointing out that special leave petitions were pending before the Supreme Court with regard to the KWST-II’s allocation of water to Karnataka in the Tungabhadra sub-basin and the Upper Bhadra and Upper Tunga projects, Telangana reiterated its contention that these allocations were without a holistic and comprehensive examination and would therefore jeopardise Telangana’s interests.
The KWDT-II has assigned 9 thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft) and 11 tmc ft of water under 65 per cent dependable flows to Karnataka’s Upper Bhadra and Upper Tunga projects respectively.
Telangana has also raised objects to several projects being taken up by Andhra Pradesh in the Krishna basin, even terming them ‘illegal’.