KCR, Naidu engage in a battle of words, are water wars imminent in the two states?

Are water wars imminent in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh? It could turn into a reality if what is unfolding on the ground snowballs into a major quarrel between the two states.

While AP is crying hoarse over three irrigation projects proposed by the Telangana government, the latter is asserting that it will righteously and completely utilise the water allocated to it. Andhra Pradesh is the tail-end state for the Godavari and the Krishna, Telangana forms part of the upper riparian state.

Representational image. Agencies

Representational image. Agencies

Telangana government has proposed to take up two lift irrigation projects on the Krishna: Palamuru-Ranga Reddy (90 TMC feet); and Dindi lift irrigation project (30 TMC feet). It also proposes to enhance the capacity of Kalvakurthy lift irrigation scheme (from 25 to 40 TMC feet). While all the three projects are in the upstream of Srisailam reservoir, the Telangana government is also proposing the construction of new barrages on the Godavari. The Andhra Pradesh government has objected to these projects.

Against this background, relations between the state governments have ebbed to a new low on Wednesday with Chief Ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh hurling invectives at each other, asserting their respective positions.

K Chandrasekhar Rao, in his usual style, said at a public meeting, “I am not ready for a controversy. I am not taking up the issue with anyone. They are trying to sow seeds of discord between the Telugu people. It is not good for any one. Please stop Chandrababu Naidu's and Opposition leader YS Jaganmohan Reddy's imbecile attempts. Now, you are attempting to come in the way of the Telangana's projects. Please do not wake a sleeping tiger. If you do so, it will be perilous. Don’t be under the false impression that you have the power to do so. If you hit us with a brick, we will respond with a stone. If you have political scores to settle, do it in some other form. Don’t exploit the popular interests of Telangana for your political gains. I know your political dramas. I know the morals of Chandrababu and Jagan. When the time comes, I will talk about it. If your objective is to fetch water for the people of AP, there is water available in the Godavari. Though there is water and you have full rights to draw, don’t you have the guts and intelligence to make use of it? I am ready to offer you my help and guide you on that front. Don't cry unnecessarily over the people of Telangana. ”

In response, AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, said at a public meeting in Srikakulam: “We are not against water for Telangana. But the water that is legally due to Andhra Pradesh must be shared proportionately. I won't keep quiet until we get our due share. It is incorrect to mete out injustice to AP. The projects proposed by Telangana are detrimental to the Delta area in AP. An apex body has been constituted in the AP Reorganisation Act 2014. This consists of both Chief Ministers and Union Minister. All three should meet and decide on the water share. The state Cabinet has adopted a resolution to this effect. Telangana CM KCR is making disparaging remarks. This is totally unacceptable. If AP’s interests are compromised, we will not keep quiet.”

KCR pointed out that he had spent an hour talking about the utilisation of Godavari waters with his AP counterpart. "The injustice done to Telangana in united AP resulted in severe crisis. The leaders of AP still wanted to live our lives. They should let us live our lives. They should stop interfering,” he asserted.

Meanwhile, the Central Water Commission (CWC) on Wednesday filed a counter affidavit in the Supreme Court in response to a petition filed by a few farmers of Andhra Pradesh on the Palamuru-Rangereddy; and Dindi and expansion of Kalvakurthy lift irrigation schemes.

Much to the discomfort of Telangana, the CWC, in its affidavit, stated that there was no proposal with regard to the estimation of water resources and utilisation with it or with the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) of the Union Government. The Palamuru-Ranga Reddy and Dindi schemes were not mentioned in the 11th schedule of AP Reorganisation Act 2014. Future of the projects would be decided based on 75 percent of dependability on water availability. Permission from KRMB is mandatory for any new project. The new projects of Telangana have not. It was not necessary for the Centre to notify all the projects on the Krishna in the two states. The affidavit submitted by the CWC went against Telangana on almost all counts.

Jagan triggers dispute

Alleging that more than 115 TMC feet of water could be drawn by Telangana through projects on the Krishna river in Mahabubnagar district, YS Jaganmohan Reddy announced that he would launch a three-day hunger strike on 16, 17 and 18 May at Kurnool against these projects. Jagan said that he sought to expose the “faulty irrigation policy” of AP Government.

Through the agitation, Jagan for sure is trying to derive political mileage. He blamed Chandrababu Naidu for “remaining silent”, though he was aware that these projects were detrimental to the interests of the state “only to save himself from the #CashforVote case”. A similar charge was levelled against Naidu by AP Congress Committee chief N Raghuveera Reddy.

Soon, the Andhra Pradesh government swung into action and discussed the issue in the Cabinet and adopted a resolution urging the Centre to intervene and that no project should be taken up without clearances from the apex bodies of Krishna and Godavari.

The Andhra Pradesh government had also written to the Prime Minister to intervene and prevail upon the Telangana government to wait for the apex body’s clearance.

Ever since, AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his ministers have launched a diatribe against the Telangana government, the loud assertions by KCR and Naidu amplified the controversy further.

A few days back, KCR at the foundation-laying of Kaleswaram project in Karimnagar district said that the state would utilise its due of 1,300 TMC feet of water under all circumstances. Naidu countered said that any new project should be taken up after due permission from the river management boards and the apex council under Section 84 of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014.

Telangana is arguing that the state was entitled to use 954 TMC feet of water from the Godavari, as part of the allocation of 1,480 TMC feet allocated to undivided AP by the Godavari Waters Disputes Tribunal.

The assured water allocated in the Krishna to Telangana was 299 TMC feet and surplus was 77 TMC feet.

Major Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao and AP Major Irrigation Minister Devineni Umamaheswara Rao are also engaged in the rhetroic. When Harish Rao offered to discuss the water disputes with his AP counterpart, Umamaheswara Rao welcomed it saying the discussion has to happen in the presence of Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharti.

Harish Rao in his acerbic tone asserted: “Hundred Chandrababus and 1,000 Jagans cannot stop the projects in Telangana. We want our water. Farmers are committing suicide. Coolies are migrating, but TDP wants to prevent the projects. Ours is a case of burning stomachs, while theirs is a case of churning in the stomach.”

Now, the fate of the projects hinges on the outcome of the Supreme Court verdict.

Updated Date: May 05, 2016 12:53 PM

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