The water-year of 2019-2020 (June 1, 2019 – May 31, 2020) has seen ample water flows in both Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers and can be treated as a good water year in so far as the two rivers are concerned. In water abundant years such as the current water-year, hundreds of TMC of water invariably allowed to flow into the sea through Prakasam Barrage.
We should consider ourselves blessed that once in every couple of years there has been ample flood which gives us an opportunity in creating reserves for use in lean years. This has been explained in the concept of carry-over storage by KWDT-I (Bachawat Tribunal Award), where allocations are made at 75% dependability and recommend carry over storages of excess water available in 74 years out of 100 years. Even the National Water Policy has been framed keeping in view that the drinking water needs of the population shall be met before water is utilized for any other purpose.
However, it has been observed that no carryover storage system is followed in the years of the very good water years including the present good water year 2019-2020.
Some salient points observed in Irrigation related aspects in the recent past are furnished below for your kind reference.
Tungabhadra dam has received 412 TMC of water as against 212 TMC of allotment to various projects of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana during this water year.
Nagarjuna Sagar has received 1450 TMC of water as against 344 TMC of allotment to various projects under Nagarjuna Sagar and Krishna Delta (the net requirement has further reduced to 264 TMC as 80 TMC of water is being supplemented to Krishna Delta by Godavari water through Pattiseema project).
The Rayalaseema region Irrigation potential utilization is 8.87% of its cultivable area for the last decade as against the state’s average of 30.27 %. Due to the non-adoption of the suggestions of KWDT -1 (construction of reservoirs for allocated water and carry over reservoirs to store floodwater), Rayalaseema projects could not utilize its allotted quantity of water from Tungabhadra dam. Thus the unused allotted waters of Tungabhadra are compelled to flow into Srisailam Reservoir and are being accounted as floodwater in Krishna River. As the Srisailam Reservoir MDDL is not being maintained Rayalaseema is deprived of surplus water also.
To ease the pressure and improve the water management efficiency of Srisailam Reservoir, Pulichintala project has been constructed with 45 TMC capacity (Storage Capacity 45 TMC – evaporation loss 9 TMC = Net Capacity 36 TMC) downstream of Nagarjuna Sagar Project. Since the project has been constructed with a projection of one and half times filled in a water year, it can hold 54 TMC (36 TMC X 1.5 times = 54 TMC) of water and to that extent, it has to ease pressure on Srisailam Reservoir.
Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal 2 (Brijesh Kumar Tribunal), where allocations are made at 65 % dependability, has made provisions to maintain the carryover storage in Srisailam Reservoir and Nagarjuna Sagar Project during water surplus years so as to meet the drinking water needs and to save farmers from late monsoons. The tribunal further made recommendations to maintain 60 TMC & 90 TMC of carryover storage at Srisailam Reservoir & Nagarjuna Sagar Project respectively. The KWDT 2 has emphasized to have carryover storage even if the distribution of allotted water is made at 50% dependability.
As per the above Tribunal, carryover is to be maintained in Srisailam Reservoir over the original MDDL of 854 ft as fixed by the KWDT 1. Subsequently, the State Government revised 834 ft MDDL by defying the KWDT award. But both the MDDL’s are ignored and water is being drawn even up to 790 ft level of Srisailam Reservoir by successive Governments.
Pulichintala and Pattiseema Projects are functioning to safeguard Krishna Delta. As for Nagarjuna Saagar’s left canal is concerned there is an opportunity to divert Godavari water by Telangana State. But the State Governments are drawing water to Nagarjuna Sagar from Srisailam Reservoir below its dead storage level of 834 ft. The KRMB has empowered to draw the attention of State Governments the need to maintain carry over storage reserves to avert the disaster in Rayalaseema Region.
If one looks at the allotment of water to respective states at a macro level it appears to be genuine. But unfortunately understanding the issues at the micro level / gross root level is lagging by State Governments and even by KRMB, which is leading injustice to the most backward Rayalaseema Region.
Both the KWDT 1 & KWDT 2 have cautioned not to waste a drop of precious water. Due to insufficient storage reservoirs in the Rayalaseema region, there is inevitable wastage of precious flood waters let into the sea through Prakasam Barrage, which could have been utilized to Rayalaseema Region. The surplus water which is passing through the Kundhu River from Banakacharla Cross Regulator could not be utilized by Rayalaseema Projects, leading to Somasila Reservoir as there are no reservoirs on Kundu River. But these flows are being accounted for Rayalaseema Projects. It is appropriate to mention that the available reservoirs in Rayalaseema are not being filled up due to insufficient carrying capacity of canals.
The Srisailam Reservoir, Nagarjuna Sagar, Pulichintala, Pattiseema, Somasila are functioning to safeguard the delta regions of Krishna and Penna without giving any importance to the Rayalaseema region.
Rayalaseema Projects are being discriminated against for water sharing among the three regions. This is clearly evident in the recent KRMB meeting held on April 21, 2020, on the allocation of water to the projects of three regions.
The meeting concluded that Rayalaseema Projects had fully utilized their allotted water, except for a meager 1 TMC of water allotment to HNSS (considering the water pumped in during flood time).
50 TMC of water can be drawn by Telangana Projects from Nagarjuna Sagar up to August 2020 against unutilized allotted water during 2019-20 to utilize 14 TMC from Nagarjuna Sagar to its right and left canal of Andhra Pradesh.
Lowering water level of Srisailam Reservoir from 814 ft to 807 ft as against MDDL of 854 ft and maintain Nagarjuna Sagar MDDL level intact at 510 ft.
These resolutions and water reserves in Somalia took care of the other two regions excluding Rayalaseema. The KRMB decisions forced Rayalaseema region once again to anxiously wait for the next floods which are uncertain and erratic.
The decision to lower water from 814 ft level of Srisailam Reservoir to 807 ft for enabling the utilization of 4.5 TMC of Krishna river water during the above said KRMB meeting is disappointing.
The short-sighted move is likely to result in a “National Tragedy” if there would be a drought year during the next Water Year of 2020-2021. This is not without historical precedent, in the water year 2015-2016 the total amount of water arrivals to the Srisailam reservoir was a mere 74 TMC. If the water flow next water-year is anywhere close to this, then there is going to be a huge “National Tragedy” as the entire region’s population depends on Srisailam Reservoir.
The injustice done so far to the Rayalaseema region can at least be rectified in the future by implementing the KWDT awards.
Against this background, Rayalaseema people urge you to save the people of the region by implementing recommendations of the Tribunal. They also urge KRMB to proactively suggest respective state governments follow the recommendations of the tribunals. So that justice can be done to three regions, without creating any imbalance among them.
The Rayalaseema people hope that KMRB will come into the rescue to safeguard the backward Rayalaseema region.
(Contents of the letter written on May 9, 2020, to The Chairman, Krishna River Management Board, Hyderabad on behalf Rayalaseema Saguneeti Sadhana Samithi)
(*Bojja Dasaratha Rami Reddy is the president of Rayalaseema Saguneeti Sadhana Samithi)