Why Andhra Pradesh & Telangana Have Locked Horns Over Krishna River
Hydel and irrigation projects of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have raked up several controversies.
On 1 July, both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, which were a single state before 2014, deployed hundreds of police personnel along the Krishna river that flows through their respective territories. Reason, an on-going dispute over the Krishna waters.
Even on Friday, 2 July tension prevails along the banks of the mighty river.
Why have the two states reached a showdown this week?
Projects on the River
The two Telugu speaking states have development projects that depend on river Krishna.
While Andhra Pradesh has the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme (RLIS) which depends on the Krishna waters that flow through its territory, Telangana runs key hydel power generation units on the waters that flow through the state.
Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act-2014, which came into existence when Telangana was carved out of undivided-Andhra Pradesh, stipulates criteria for water sharing of the Krishna.
Of the 811 TMC (Thousand Million Cubic Feet) water allocated to undivided-AP, 521 TMC was to be used by residual-AP and 299 TMC by Telangana.
According to Telangana, RLIS violates the set accord and aims to lift more water from the river than what was agreed upon. Andhra Pradesh, meanwhile, has been objecting Telangana's hydel power generation at Srisailam, Nagarjunasagar and Pulichintala, claiming that water levels at these projects are too low to generate power. Andhra Pradesh which is dependent on the water for irrigation, if the water is pumped out for hydel power generation, especially if the water levels are low.
Legal Tangles, Letters to Centre
The two states had come to standoffs in 2015 and 2016. Police had prevented officials of the two states to do their work in respective projects during both the times. Since then the disputes have taken a legal turn.
As part of the AP Reorganisation Act, the two states are also reliant on Krishna River Management Board (KRMB), for water sharing. The board was constituted under section 85 of the Act.
In 2020, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, in a 14-page letter to the Centre had accused the KRMB of being biased towards AP.
Rao accused the board of allowing Andhra Pradesh's Pothyreddypadu head regulator on the Srisailam reservoir to draw 80,000 cusecs of water from Krishna river to irrigate Pennar basin in the state. According to Rao, the KRMB had given originally given permission to draw just 1,500 cusecs of water from the river.
Telangana also went to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to get a favourable ruling.
Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 1 July. In the letter, the AP CM has accused Telangana of escalating the stand-off. Reddy has requested the PM to intervene and solve the crisis brewing along the state boarders. The AP CM also accused Telangana of drawing water "illegally" for power generation.
Flaring Regional Sentiments
The water war among the two states has also seen regional sentiments flaring up. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, which were two regions of undivided AP, have had a long history of antagonism along regional lines.
While the two are Telugu speaking states, both regions claim cultural differences of their own. Starting 2009, a separate Telangana agitation had rocked the two regions leading to the formation of Telangana state in 2014.
As police personnel are deployed along the river bank, several political leaders have issued statements favouring their regional political aspirations.
"Srisailam project was constructed for generation of hydel power and not for irrigation."G Jagadeesh Reddy, Telangana Energy MInister
"In spite of instructions from KRMB not to draw water for power generation, the state of Telangana is unilaterally drawing water for power generation violating the Standard Operating Protocol and agreements. Such actions of Telangana are not in the interest of good inter-state relations and is adversely affecting the interests of the lower riparian state of Andhra Pradesh," Jagan Mohan Reddy wrote to the Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, Telangana has accused Andhra Pradesh of not following NGT and KRMB orders that had asked it to stop irrigation work.
What's the Solution?
According to officials of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh who are managing their respective projects on the river, following AP Reorganisation act alone can be a solution for the current crisis.
"Only official implementation of the reorganisation act can solve the crisis. Both the states have flouted norms," an official of KRMB told The Quint. According to the official, KRMB had issued orders to both the states to stop their respective projects on the river. However, none of the orders were complied by in full spirit.
The states, however, may control the escalation of tension only with the Centre's intervention, the official rued.
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