The river linking project aims to divert part of the 3,000 tmc surplus water from the Godavari to the river basins of Krishna, Pennar and Cauvery.

Here are Telanganas conditions to approve the linking of Godavari and CauveryCauvery River/Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
news River linking Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 15:20

The Central government recently proposed linking the Godavari and Cauvery rivers to combat water scarcity in the south. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have not opposed the idea, but Telangana laid down some conditions.

The river linking project aims to divert part of the 3,000 tmc surplus water from the Godavari, which Union Minister for Irrigation Nitin Gadkari said goes waste and flows into the sea every year. The surplus water will be diverted to the river basins of Krishna, Pennar and Cauvery. Responding to the proposal, Harish Rao, Telangana’s Minister for Irrigation, said that due to the reduced availability of water in the Krishna river, Godavari was the only source.

The National Water Development Agency (NWDA) had proposed nine links, which would take place in two phases. The present proposal is to link the Godavari (Akinepalli) Nagarjuna Sagar Project Tail Pond with the Cauvery (Grand Anicut). Surplus water will be taken from the Akinepalli barrage on the river Godavari and transferred to the Nagarjuna Sagar Project in the Krishna basin. This, in turn, will be transferred to the Somasila Dam in Pennar basin and to the Grand Anicut in Cauvery basin.

Telangana, however, proposed that the Mahanadi-Godavari basin be linked first before the proposed link was taken up. While the Godavari-Cauvery linking was to be undertaken under Phase-I, the Mahanadi-Godavari linking was being planned in Phase-II. The reason the Telangana government wants the Mahanadi-Godavari link to be done first is so that the Sitarama Lift Irrigation project is not affected.

What are the conditions laid down by Telangana?

  • The present and future requirements of the basin states must be met before water is transferred to other basins.
  • The government wants hydrology to be used to ascertain the surplus water. The government pointed out that the Central Water Commission usually takes into account 40 years of water availability to assess surplus water, but in this case, 110 years were taken into account, which showed that there was 177 tmc of surplus water at Akinepalli. This, however, is not the case when only 40 years are taken into account.
  • The Telangana government said that it is dependent on the Krishna and Godavari rivers entirely, and the Krishna river has already been harnessed. Due to the reducing availability of water in the Godavari basin, the allotted water has already been used. They further added that while they currently receive 1,260 tmc of water from the Godavari, they needed it to be increased to 1,500 tmc. Beyond this, the state would not have a problem with water being transferred.
  • The Centre had proposed building of a barrage at Akinepalli. However, this will submerge 45 villages in Warangal and Khammam, and affect 55,000 people.
  • While the projected benefit is about 7.5 lakh acres, a large part of the area that would be served is already covered by existing and ongoing projects or falls under the area that would be submerged by the Polavaram project. The land that needs to be acquired for the project passes through forest area. Also, it requires 47,000 acres of land and acquiring this amount of land would take time.

What does the Telangana government want before the project is approved?

  • Reassessment of hydrology
  • Alternate options to be explored by the Central government
  • Choice of option that has the least adverse environmental and social impact