The second meeting of the Apex Council on river water disputes between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh scheduled next week is likely to be stormy with the former demanding operational control of the Srisailam reservoir. After making it clear that his government will take both Andhra Pradesh and the Union government to task during the October 6 meeting, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao shot off a letter to Union Water Resources Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.
He sought transfer of operational control of Srisailam reservoir from Andhra Pradesh to Telangana to stop the neighbouring state from expanding the Pothireddypadu Head Regulator and constructing the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme (RLIS) on the Krishna river.
In his 4-page letter, the Telangana chief minister requested the Union government to immediately direct the Andhra Pradesh government to stop work on expansion of Pothireddypadu Head Regulator and construction of RLIS. Terming the projects illegal, he said they affect the interests and rights of Telangana.
Analysts say Andhra Pradesh is sure to oppose the demand of Telangana as Srisailam reservoir comes under its territorial jurisdiction.
Andhra Pradesh government has already defended RLIS saying it was not using more than its allocated share of water in Krishna river. It even launched a counter attack, raising objections to seven projects taken up by Telangana across Godavari river.
KCR, as Rao is popularly known, wrote that Telangana had struggled for six decades to get a fair and an equitable share of water and already lost seven long and valuable years after its formation due to the inaction of the Union government.
"Every state of the Indian Union has a constitutional right to get a fair and equitable allocation of river waters. However, even after seven years of its formation, Telangana state is still waiting to know its legitimate share of waters."
He urged the central minister to include the allocation of water issues raised in this letter as agenda items in the second Apex Council meeting.
He said that the ineffective supervision of Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) and issues related to Section 89 of the AP Reorganisation Act 2014 should be discussed during the meeting.
"Instead of prolonging the meaningless dispute between the two newly-formed states, the Union government should come up with the terms of reference to the present tribunal for the allocation of a fair and equitable share of Krishna water," he wrote.
He highlighted the consistent failures of KRMB as a regulatory body. "Though the matter of Pothireddypadu Regulator and RLIS was first brought to the notice of KRMB as early as in February, 2020, they have failed to take any action to stop Andhra Pradesh government from calling for tenders relating to out-of-basin transfer from Krishna Basin. KRMB has remained a mute spectator to the large scale drawal of waters from Pothireddypadu Regulator in spite of our repeated complaints," KCR wrote.
The chief minister pointed out that the struggle for the formation of a separate Telangana state was the injustice in allocation of water in united Andhra Pradesh. According to him, the gross injustices included scrapping of Upper Krishna Project with utilisation of 54.4 tmc, Bhima project with utilisation of 100.7 tmc and Tungabhadra left bank canal with utilisation of 19.2 tmc. Even, Nagarjunasagar Dam was shifted from Yelleshwaram to Nandikonda, to the disadvantage of Telangana.
Referring to Andhra Pradesh's objections to seven new projects by Telangana in Godavari basin, KCR said these allegations are a complete farce as all the seven projects were contemplated, designed, and grounded by the government of the combined Andhra Pradesh state itself, well before bifurcation took place in 2014.
"It now appears that the Andhra Pradesh is objecting about the Kaleshwaram Project with the sole purpose of diverting attention from their own unauthorised and illegal activities at Pothireddypadu Regulator and Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme," reads the letter.
Citing the 53 years of Central Water Commission's (CWC) gauge records at the last gauging station on Godavari river, he pointed out that at least 3,000 tmc ft of water empties into the Bay of Bengal. He also brought to the Union minister's notice that in the undivided Andhra Pradesh, Telangana region was allocated 65.13 per cent of the Godavari water.
"Based on the total water requirement for irrigation, industry, and drinking, Telangana will use 1,950 tmc ft water per year in comparison to the present allocation of 967.15 tmc ft. This additional water is needed to meet the requirements of more than one crore population of the mega city of Hyderabad which also has 30 to 40 lakh migrant workers. The city needs more water due to the expansion of IT and pharma industries and the growth of its urban agglomerations," he added.