The Andhra Pradesh government on Tuesday requested the Centre to chalk out a policy treating water as national wealth to balance the needs of both the backward areas and the flourishing areas. It said the requirement of water for drinking and irrigation needs should take precedence in the drought-prone and backward areas and that power generation should only be incidental.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy made this plea to Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, as he narrated how the “lowest riparian state” was forced to suffer at the cost of an upper riparian state that effortlessly drew water from river Krishna. In a 11-page presentation to the Apex Council chaired by the Jal Shakti Minister, the second meeting of which was held in virtual mode from New Delhi on Tuesday, Jagan asserted that AP never intended to draw additional water from river Krishna than what was allotted by the Krishna River Water Disputes Tribunal and justified the proposed Rayalaseema Lift Scheme.
The AP Chief Minister maintained that “the state of Andhra Pradesh has no other option” except taking up the Rayalaseema Lift Scheme to lift three tmc feet of water per day from the Srisailam reservoir. “It is pertinent to mention here that Telangana with mutually agreed share of 299 tmc ft is having a facility to draw three tmc ft per day at a level of 800 ft,” he said.
According to him, AP, with an agreed allocation of 512 tmc ft, does not have the capacity to draw water into Pothireddypadu at a water level below 881ft. “To effectively convey the allocated water drawn from the foreshore of Srisailam, to the canal network system, and also to avoid inundation of low-lying areas and flood mitigation by diverting the flows during floods, some improvement and lining work is being planned,” the Chief Minister said.
“It is crystal clear from the proposals of RLS that there is neither any proposal for drawal of additional water than what is allocated to AP, nor any new storage planned. Nor any new ayacut has been contemplated and enhanced utilisation proposed, except to supplement the needs of existing and ongoing projects of AP,” he stressed. Jagan pointed out that the four Rayalaseema districts of Kurnool, Kadapa, Anantapuramu and Chittoor and two coastal districts of SPS Nellore and Prakasam were “critical and chronically drought-prone areas” and were mainly dependent on Srisailam project for their drinking water, industrial and irrigation needs.
“It is generally agreed that a minimum of 100 tmc ft of water is required for each district to sustain itself and alleviate the backwardness in the region. This has been reiterated very often by the Chief Minister of Telangana and I was personally elated when these words came from him,” Jagan noted.
The AP Chief Minister also cited the agreement with neighbouring Tamil Nadu over supply of 15 tmc ft of water every year from river Krishna to meet the drinking water needs of Chennai city. Summing up, Jagan requested that the Centre evolve a policy to treat water as national wealth “to balance the needs of the backward areas and flourishing areas.” “The sharing mechanism in all the reservoirs in a (river) basin may be considered on a proportionate and fortnightly basis so that all extreme conditions will be shared by all stakeholders in the basin together,” he added.
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