The inter-state river water disputes in India often linger on for decades, invariably marked by bitterness and rancour. They are periodically used to score political brownie points, ignoring the interests of people on either side of the divide. Given this reality, the sibling Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have set an example for rest of the country on resolution of inter-state water disputes and demonstrated that the maturity and foresight of political leadership can find solutions to what might seem intractable problems. A day-long meeting of the two Chief Ministers K Chandrashekhar Rao and Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy at Hyderabad recently broke new ground in resolution of the pending issues, particularly over water sharing. It marked a new beginning in the harmonious relations between the two states and laid down a path for jointly exploring the options for optimum utilisation of river water resources. Apart from bonhomie and warmth that marked the meeting, the exercise presented a refreshing departure from the past when the ruling dispensation in the neighbouring state used every trick in its bag to stall projects in Telangana. One of the key outcomes from the meeting was the decision to prepare a joint strategy to divert water from Godavari river to Srisailam reservoir across Krishna to provide irrigation and drinking water facility to some of the most backward areas of both the states. This is a commendable initiative and needs to be followed up with concrete action plans.
The fact that nearly 3000 TMC of Godavari water goes waste into the sea every year must serve as a call for action for the two states to draw up plans to harness the waters for the benefit of the people. As KCR rightly pointed out, running around the courts and tribunals in the fight over water share will not help the matters. The future generations will not forgive us for squandering away the opportunity to harness water resources going waste into the sea. It is time to offload the baggage of a bitter past and work shoulder-to-shoulder for prosperity of the people in the two states. It is in the interests of the people that the leadership should show astuteness, maturity, empathy and fairness in resolving pending issues. Be it the historic agreements with Maharashtra to end the decades old dispute over irrigation projects or extending the hand of friendship to Andhra Pradesh for resolution of pending issues in a give-and-take approach, Telangana has shown enormous maturity and set a new benchmark in harmonious neighbourly relations. It is pertinent to recall how KCR’s personal initiative had helped break a new ground with Maharashtra two years ago, paving way for taking up key irrigation projects like Kaleshwaram.