Hyderabad: Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s priority from day one since Telangana was formed has been protecting the interest of the State, but never has it been at the cost of somebody else. He often speaks about the welfare of the people of Andhra Pradesh, particularly those from the parched region of Rayalaseema.
When AP Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy met him at Pragathi Bhavan, Chandrashekhar Rao spoke about the welfare of the people of both the States, and expressed his displeasure at water going waste into the sea instead of being utilised to bring lakhs of acres under cultivation in both the States.
Chandrashekhar Rao even mooted the idea of taking water from Godavari through a network of canals to Rayalaseema passing through the geographical area of the State. On June 28, 2019, breaking new ground, Telangana agreed to amicably resolve all the water-sharing disputes through negotiations and decided to divert water from Godavari river to Krishna river.
During the first full-fledged official talks between Chandrashekhar Rao and Jaganmohan Reddy, the former urged the irrigation officials from both sides to prepare proposals on diverting water from Godavari to Srisailam reservoir across Krishna river before July 15, 2020.
The common agreement was that since availability of water in Krishna was less, which was causing hardships in the Rayalaseema region in AP besides Mahabubnagar and Nalgonda districts in Telangana, both the Chief Ministers agreed to ensure total and efficient utilisation of the available water resources so that there would be no scarcity of water for agriculture, industries and for drinking water purposes in both the States.
Let bygones be bygones
Chandrashekhar Rao was magnanimous in announcing that the disputes and issues pertaining to river water sharing have been forgotten in good spirit and both the States should strive to provide optimum benefit to their people. “There are no egos, no disputes over the basins. If we have disputes, we cannot give water to our future generations. We must think about ourselves from the peoples’ perspective because they voted for us hoping that we will do good for them, and hence, it is our responsibility to do good for them,” Chandrashekkhar Rao said then.
We can save 3,000 tmc
In a PowerPoint presentation on the availability of water in the rivers, Chandrashekhar Rao said there was 4,000 TMC of water in Krishna and Godavari and by utilising them, the two States can enhance irrigation and drinking water capacity. ”We have about 3,000 TMC of water going into the sea every year. All we need is the wisdom to utilise the water,” the Chief Minister said.
He advised AP that it all depends on the efficiency of both the States in optimally utilising the water. He further advised the sibling State that there was no use running around tribunals and courts for share of water. In a fatherly guidance, he said that if both the states think and walk together, it will be enough. He, however, stressed that both the States should have unanimity on the utilisation of the water in the two main rivers, Godavari and Krishna.
Commenting on the Centre’s proposal on connectivity of rivers, the Chief Minister said that after the needs of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were fulfilled, then the Telugu states can think of the Centre’s proposal.
Telangana takes a tough stance against AP
However, AP vitiated the friendly atmosphere by issuing a GO for expansion of the capacity of the Pothireddypadu Head Regulator without consulting the upper riparian State. Irked by the baseless allegations on Telangana with regard to sharing of river water in its letter to the KRMB and GRMB, Chandrashekhar Rao decided to effectively counter the sibling State’s overtures by tabling complete and true information at the ensuing Apex Council meeting putting an end to the claims of the neighbouring State.
The Chief Minister, who had held a meeting with the officers of Irrigation department at Pragathi Bhavan to chalk out the stand to be taken by the State of Telangana at the Apex Council meeting called by the Jala Shakti ministry to discuss the issue of sharing of river water, reviewed the historical background of each irrigation projects. He then looked into the opinion of Andhra Pradesh on each one of them.
The Chief Minister was of the view that time has come to give a strong reply to both the Andhra Pradesh and the Union Governments. “It is highly deplorable that the AP government is making these false accusations on Telangana projects. I have offered a friendly hand to AP government by inviting the heads of that State for a lunch and made it amply clear that Telangana is not for basins or bheshajams (ego clashes). I have proposed that being neighbours having natural borders, we must shun differences to provide assured irrigation to our farmers,” the Chief Minister said. He added that he has advised the neighbouring State to ensure that the water that goes waste into the sea can be effectively utilided by implementing an action plan.
“But AP is deliberately picking a fight, but we will give a strong reply at the Apex Council closing the baseless arguments of that State once for all,” Rao said. The Chief Minister also found fault with the attitude of the Union government with regard to Telangana projects. “We are constructing projects as per the allocated water share. It is highly deplorable to object to projects which have approved allocations, received all permissions and huge amounts of money being spent even before the State is formed,” he pointed out.
Speaking to Telangana Today M Shyam Prasad Reddy , general secretary of Telangana Retired Engineers Association said that the centre has been raising objections with regard to release of water from Srisailam to Nagarjuna Sagar without considering the facts. “In fact Nagarjuna Sagar has to be filled first and Srisailam is not a project meant for irrigation, it is meant for generation of hydroelectric power,” he said.
He pointed out that projects that were conceived during erstwhile AP were not meant to meet the needs of the Telangana region and after formation of the State, Telangana embarked on redesigning of the projects based on the present day needs of the new State. He recalled that Telangana movement is in fact aimed at achieving the region’s legitimate rights in river water, because of the gross injustice meted out to Telangana. Countering AP’s allegations the irrigation expert recalled that AP has raised objection about Palamuru-Rangareddy lift irrigation project but when Telangana countered it with the mention of Muchchumarri project undertaken by that State it agreed to continue both the projects. On the other hand three barrages on Penganga received Tribunal’s approvals and agreements were made way back in 1975. The irrigation experts have prepared to present all these details, related government orders, and the extent of land acquired during the Apex Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
A discriminated State needs more water
Telangana could complete projects such as Jurala, Nettempadu, Kalwakurthy, Bhima, and Koilsagar which were taken up during the combined State, only after formation of Telangana. Recalling the blasting of RDS drain by AP leaders for the construction of Tummila Lift, Reddy said that Telangana region was discriminated at every stage. However he said that Telangana has started constructing the projects after bifurcation that too strictly adhering to allocations only.
“In fact, Telangana requires more water. We must get another 1,000 TMC in the surplus water of Godavari. The catchment of Godavari is more in Telangana. Hence Telangana must demand for 1,000 TMC of surplus Godavari water from the 2,000 TMC of water that otherwise would go waste into the Sea,” Chief Minister said during a review meeting batting for the future needs of the State.
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