The governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have demanded a higher water share from the proposed river interlinking project of Godavari and Cauvery. While Tamil Nadu has demanded that its share be increased from the current 83 tmcft to 200 tmcft, Karnataka has emphasised that it also has a rightful share in the water diverted from Godavari.
The comments from both the state governments were obtained as an RTI response recently. The government of Tamil Nadu had submitted its comments on the draft of Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the interlinking proposal in September 2019 to the National Water Development Agency (NWDA). Among the comments, Tamil Nadu has requested the NWDA to increase the capacity of water holding at Tamil Nadu border to at least 200 tmcft in order to meet the growing drinking water needs of the people of Tamil Nadu.
As per the DPR, 247 tmcft of water is proposed to be diverted from the Godavari basin to the Krishna basin under the project, of which 163 tmcft will be set aside for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The remaining water will be provided to Tamil Nadu.
The BJP government had, immediately after the 2019-electoral victory, confirmed that water will be transferred from a place of excess to a place of deficit. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had stated in an interview that major peninsular rivers will be linked, including Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery.
According to the feasibility report of the Cauvery Vaigai Gundar project by the MWDA, the river-linking project involves the diversion of surplus waters of the Mahanadi basin and the Godavari basin, to Krishna, Pennar, Cauvery, Vaigai and Gundar basins in the South, which suffer from water shortage. The plan is to divert water from Mahanadi to Godavari first and then from Godavari to Krishna, Pennar and Cauvery with a goal to help in wider irrigation of lands in the river basins.
The government of Karnataka, meanwhile, has asserted its right to share in the water diverted from the Godavari river to the Krishna river, under the project.
According to a response by the Karnataka Water Resource Department to the NWDA, filed on July 26, the Godavari Water Dispute Tribunal has endorsed the sharing of water diverted from Godavari basin among the riparian states of the Krishna river. Referring to the Tribunal’s award of 35 tmcft of water to Karnataka and Maharashtra from the 80 tmcft water transferred from Godavari basin to Krishna basic through the Polavaram project, the government of Karnataka stated that the Tribunal award also provided for sharing of any excess water that is being diverted from Godavari basin.
“In view of all the above facts, it is very much clear that the Karnataka state has a rightful share in Krishna, Cauvery and Pennar basin on account of augmentation of water from Godavari river to these basins,” reads the RTI response.
Experts, meanwhile, have cautioned against adverse ecological implications that would arise if the government went ahead with its plan to interlink the rivers.