Caught in long-standing AP-K'taka-Telangana water dispute, Tungabhadra barrage may collapse

Due to the long-standing dispute, the barrage has not been maintained for 49 years.
Caught in long-standing AP-K'taka-Telangana water dispute, Tungabhadra barrage may collapse
Caught in long-standing AP-K'taka-Telangana water dispute, Tungabhadra barrage may collapse
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On the river Tungabhadra is an inter-state barrage – the Rajolibandi Diversion Scheme – which has become a water-sharing issue, between Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.

The barrage, which became operational in 1957, has not been maintained since the last 49 years and if the monsoon fills the barrage to the brim, there are chances of it collapsing this year, officials with the Cauvery Neeravai Nigama Limited, the agency which manages the barrage, told The News Minute.

“One of the reasons for no maintenance is because of severe opposition from Andhra Pradesh. Since the wall and the pipelines are crumbling, the only way to salvage the barrage is to build a 6 ft jacket around it. This will increase the size of the wall to 15 ft. Now, Andhra Pradesh is claiming that the increase in height of the wall will result in Andhra not getting any water, which is why there has been severe opposition,” said Bhoja Naik, Superintendent Engineer and in-charge of the RDS project.

The issue, however, is an old one. What began as a dispute between Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka has now become an issue involving Telangana as well.

According to officials of the Cauvery Neeravari Nigama Limited, farmers from Andhra Pradesh have resorted to violence multiple times over the years, which has resulted in the district administration ordering a stay on the maintenance work.

“In 2008-2009, tenders were called for carrying out the repair work and the opposition began then. Andhra Pradesh feels that the water-starved Kurnool area will not receive any water from river Tungabhadra, if the height of the wall increases. There has been widespread violence across the border due to which we have put a hold on the work,” a senior official with knowledge about the project told TNM.

In 1973, the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal had decided that farmers from the Kurnool and Mahabubnagar districts would draw water in the ratio of 60:40. Now, both the parties are accusing each other of trying to prevent water from reaching the other side.

The government had constituted the tribunal to resolve water-sharing disputes between Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. However, Telangana has been demanding that the tribunal treat it as a separate entity and accordingly draw up a fresh water-sharing agreement since June 2014.

“This issue has been going on for decades. But it is crucial to note that the wall will soon collapse and all the water will flow into Andhra Pradesh, leaving Karnataka and Telangana empty handed. It may even submerge villages along the way, which is dangerous,” the official said.

According to Bhoja Naik, the Cauvery Neeravari Nigama Limited has written to the Principal Secretary, government of Karnataka, and the Chief Engineers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on Thursday, requesting the states to hold a Principal Secretary-level meeting to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

"In April and May this year, two meetings were held with the Chief Engineers of each state involved. While Karnataka and Telangana want the repair works to be carried out, Andhra Pradesh is heavily opposing this move and the meetings were not fruitful," Naik added.

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