Are Telangana and Andhra Pradesh heading for a Water War?

By Gali Nagaraja

Hyderabad: The general elections in Andhra Pradesh early in 2019 that saw TDP’s N. Chandrababu Naidu biting the dust created impression that the sibling states would return to peace after indulging in the worst-ever disputes over sharing of river waters, among others.

And, the YSR Congress president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy riding to power with a massive mandate has even reinforced such a public perception, given the show of camaraderie displayed by him and his Telangana counterpart K. Chandrasekhar Rao at the former’s swearing-in on 31 May in Vijayawada.  

Finding himself in the arms of Telangana Chief Minister, Jagan soon earned the moniker as foster son of KCR.

Proving the proverb—the enemy’s enemy is fried—right, Jagan and KCR made friends with each other.  The duo intended to take their bonhomie to the next level by proposing the linkage of the Godavari and the Krishna River with an investment of Rs 1 lakh crore as a joint venture of AP and Telangana states.

But the duo who appeared to be bosom friends suddenly got into the battle fatigues in the mid-summer, acquiring the image of the watermen of their respective states. They began playing to their respective galleries.

Will this show is for mere public consumption?

Jagan Reddy government on May 5 set the cat in the Telangana’s pigeons by releasing a GO (Ms No.203) seeking to build a lift scheme at Sangameswaram and increase the discharge capacity of Potireddypadu Head Regulator with an estimated cost of Rs 7,045crore in the foreshores of Srisailam reservoir for diversion of 3 tmc of water from the Krishna river for Rayalaseema on a daily basis.

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The AP government claimed that the scheme is proposed to utilise only its share in the floodwaters of the Krishna river.

Regardless of the AP government’s clarification, the Telangana Principal Secretary, Irrigation, Rajat Kumar, complained to the Krishna River Management Board on May 12, seeking to prevent the proposed lift scheme. He asserted that the proposal is in violation of section 84 of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 which insists that any new schemes proposed on the Krishna river shall not be grounded without prior permission from the Apex Council, comprising the Union Minister for Water Resources and Chief Ministers of Andhra and Telangana.

In turn, AP Special Chief Secretary, Irrigation, Adityanath Das, shot off a letter to the Godavari River Management Board with a request to stall nine “illegal” projects coming up on the Godavari River patronised by Telangana government. The nine projects included the KCR’s brainchild—Kaleswaram Lift Irrigation Scheme.

Jagan attended inaugural function of Kaleswaram Lift Irrigation Scheme

Interestingly, Jagan Reddy, soon after his swearing in as the AP CM, personally attended the inaugural function of the Kaleswaram Lift Irrigation Scheme in display of his bonhomie with the KCR government.

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The Potireddypadu Head Regulator—the mouth of the Krishna river for the water-starved Rayalaseema region, strikingly became the trigger of the Telangana movement during the period of Jagan’s father Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy as Chief Minister of the undivided Andhra Pradesh. The KCR’s Telangana Rastra Samithi made a huge uproar against YSR’s move to increase the discharge capacity of the Potireddypadu Head Regulator up to 44,000 cusecs from 11,000 cusecs, saying it’s a ploy of Andhra people to steal Telangana’s share in the Krishna waters. The combined share of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in the Krishna’s assured waters is 811tmc as per the Bachchawat Tribunal, of which Andhra’s individual share accounts for 512tmc while that of Telangana 299tmc.

KCR was apparently cornered by the BJP and the Congress for his perceived soft-peddling on the hawkish postures of the AP government regarding the Krishna waters. When a reporter attempted bringing the opposition’s blitzkrieg to the CM’s attention at a media conference, KCR shot back, “Jagan is my friend. No one can play spoilsport on us”.  Will the storm brewing between KCR and Jagan end-up like the proverbial one in a teacup?

Or it will turn into a fully blown River Water War between the two?

Watch these columns for newer developments on Water Front.

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