Telangana Assembly passes unanimous resolution
Hyderabad: The Telangana State Legislative Assembly on Monday passed a unanimous resolution stating that it would not hand over control of its projects to the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) unless the board agrees to the conditions laid out by the state government.
Moving the resolution in the House, Irrigation Minister Capt N Uttam Kumar Reddy explained that the Krishna River was the lifeline of the regions of southern Telangana both for Irrigation and drinking water purposes. After the formation of Andhra Pradesh through the Bachawath Tribunal Award, 811 TMC of water was allocated to Andhra Pradesh. Successive Governments have created substantial Irrigation potential through the construction of Major projects. After the formation of the new state of Telangana, sufficient attention was not given to the requirements of the Krishna Basin, and the then government agreed to the grossly unfair ratio of water sharing between the two states, which is 299 TMC to Telangana and 512 TMC to Andhra Pradesh, he said.
“Through the AP Reorganization Act 2014, the KRMB was created to regulate the water sharing between the two states. The then government also proposed to hand over the common projects, i.e. Srisailam Dam and Nagarjunasagar Dam, to the control of KRMB, which is detrimental to the interests of Telangana. The KRMB jurisdiction to that effect has also been notified by the Government of India, which was not objected to by the previous government,” Uttam Kumar Reddy said in the resolution. The Irrigation Minister pointed out that on the night of November 29, 2023, the Government of AP, by sending armed police, forcibly took over the control of the right side of Nagarjunasagar Dam, which was till then under the control of Telangana. The Central Government intervened and sent CRPF to remove the AP Police.
The resolution specified certain conditions that must be fulfilled before Telangana would hand over control of the common projects to KRMB. These included using catchment areas, drought-prone areas, basin populations, and cultivable areas as the basis for water sharing between AP and Telangana. According to the KWDT-I (Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal) Award, in-basin needs should be met first. The MDDL (Minimum Draw Down Level) of Srisailam would be +830 ft as per the KWDT-I Award, as this was sanctioned as a hydro-electric project by the Planning Commission in 1962 for supplying water to Nagarjunasagar project. Outside basin diversions from the Srisailam reservoir would be limited to specific amounts, such as 15 TMC for Chennai water supply and 19 TMC for SRBC (Srisailam Right Bank Canal), approved by CWC (Central Water Commission). The use towards drinking water would be reckoned as 20% of drawal towards consumptive use as stipulated by KWDT-I. States would be permitted to carry over water to the next year as per KWDT-I and would not be accounted as used in the next year’s account. Lastly, unauthorized construction of projects/expansions/new components diverting Krishna water outside the basin would not be permitted strictly unless approved by CWC/MoWR (Ministry of Water Resources).
The House also resolved to request the Government of India to withdraw the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) and hand over the control of the project to the Telangana Government. The Irrigation Minister gave a PowerPoint presentation explaining the resolution’s aims and objectives wherein he accused the previous BRS regime of surrendering Telangana’s interest by agreeing to 512 TMCs for Andhra Pradesh and 299 TMCs for Telangana. He asserted that the previous BRS regime decided to give away the control of projects. He also gave a detailed chronology of meetings and events and their implications to substantiate his allegation.
After over four hours of debate, the House unanimously passed the resolution. “Previous KCR regime failed to get Telangana’s due share, handed over projects to KRMB” In his detailed PowerPoint presentation, Uttam Kumar Reddy highlighted two crucial points: the failure of the BRS Government to secure Telangana’s rightful share in the Krishna River and its decision to hand over control of the projects to KRMB.
Referring to the meeting held on June 18 and 19, 2015, he explained that an interim ad-hoc agreement was reached between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for sharing 811 TMC water in the ratio of 512 TMC to 299 TMC, based on the earmarked utilization by erstwhile A.P. The then BRS Government entered into this agreement, with serious implications for use. KWDT-I did not provide project-wise allocation; instead, it made an en bloc allocation.
Although Telangana dominates in terms of basin parameters like catchment area, drought-prone area, basin population, and cultivable area, it is eligible for the 70% ratio and should have negotiated for any other ratio not tied to 299:512, thus restricting future claims of Telangana. Consequently, Andhra Pradesh heavily relies on this document when presenting it before the Tribunal and other forums, advocating for similar allocation lines. Telangana finds it impossible to escape this situation.
In the first meeting of the Apex Council held in New Delhi on September 21, 2016, attended by KCR and Harish Rao from Telangana, and the then Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu, the Chief Minister of Telangana stated that he agreed to the continuation of the 2015-16 working arrangement for sharing water for another year. The Chief Minister’s stance was recorded in the meeting, stating that both states agreed to the continuation of the 2015-16 working arrangement for sharing waters during 2016-17 as well. Consequently, the then government should have used this opportunity to demand a better share of water than the previously agreed-upon water share of 299:512 (TS: AP), he said.
He mentioned that AP Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and the then Telangana CM KCR held discussions for hours and shared a meal together. A video clip of CM Jagan’s speech praising KCR in the AP Legislative Assembly was shown in the House.
On July 25, 2020, Telangana’s Engineer-in-Chief (ENC) addressed a letter to KRMB, urging restraint on Andhra Pradesh’s Tender process for the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme (RLIS). The closing date for tenders was set for August 10, 2020. Subsequently, on July 30, 2020, the Telangana Chief Secretary sought the postponement of the Apex Council meeting originally scheduled for August 5, 2020, to a date after August 20, 2020. The last date for tender submissions was August 10, 2020.
“Telangana’s decision to seek the postponement indirectly benefited Andhra Pradesh by ensuring a smooth tendering process for RLIS. Had Telangana opposed this move and attended the Apex Council meeting, the Indian government might have intervened to impede the tender process. The then BRS government’s delayed response in presenting the case in the Supreme Court or the existing KWDT-II further complicated the matter. The subsequent legal proceedings and the treatment of Telangana’s Palamuru Rangareddy Lift Irrigation Scheme (PRLIS) and Andhra Pradesh’s RLIS on the same footing before the Government of India added fuel to the controversy,” he said.
During the 2nd Apex Council Meeting held through video conference on October 6, 2020, the then Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao highlighted the ongoing working arrangement between the two states. He emphasized that water-sharing decisions would continue until finalized by the Tribunal under Section 3.
“The decision to maintain the status quo had significant implications. Telangana could have used this opportunity to raise concerns and seek a revision of water-sharing agreements. However, by choosing to continue with the existing arrangement until the Tribunal’s decision, Telangana now faces potential challenges,” he said.
A Gazette notification issued by the Central Government on July 15, 2021, notifying the projects’ jurisdiction of KRMB and GRMB, became a turning point. Surprisingly, the Telangana government did not oppose the notification and submitted DPRs for certain projects. He said requests for modifications to the Gazette notification, made in 2022 and 2023, are still pending with the Central Water Commission.
Uttam Kumar Reddy said that during the 15th KRMB Meeting in Hyderabad on October 12, 2021, Telangana agreed to hand over nine prioritized components of Srisailam and Nagarjuna Sagar projects to Andhra Pradesh. However, this decision comes with implications, such as the potential loss of flexibility in operating hydel powerhouses and the regulation of initial flows during peak demand months.
In the subsequent 16th KRMB Meeting in May 2022, the Telangana government expressed no objection to handing over components, subject to the finalization of Rule Curves. The state proposed conditions for the handover in its budget demand for 2023-24, including a 50:50 water-sharing ratio and restrictions on outside basin diversions.
He said that the situation escalated on November 29, 2023, when Andhra Pradesh trespassed and forcefully occupied the right half of the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, releasing water without any orders from KRMB. He said that a virtual meeting chaired by the Union Home Secretary on December 1, 2023, decided that KRMB should take control over the reservoirs, and the status quo of the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam should be immediately restored.
Furthermore, on December 1, 2023, Smita Sabharwal, Secretary to the Government, wrote a letter to the Centre, stating that both states have agreed in principle to hand over control of common projects, i.e., Srisailam and NSP, in terms of the Gazette Notification dated July 15, 2021. However, she claimed that the handover process was getting delayed due to the lack of finalization of the operation protocol for both dams.
Due to the negligence of the BRS Government, AP increased its withdrawal capacities over the last ten years. Giving a project-wise breakdown, he stated that AP’s project capacities increased from 4.1 TMC in 2014 to 9.6 TMC in 2023. Further, he noted that the annual inflows and diversions outside the basin from the Srisailam Reservoir have significantly increased after the formation of Telangana under BRS rule. The diversions, which were 727.15 TMC from 2004-05 to 2013-14, have increased to 1201.54 TMC. Therefore, more than 50% of water was illegally drawn by Andhra Pradesh due to the negligence of the KCR regime.
Uttam Kumar Reddy said that despite sabotaging Telangana’s interest in the Krishna River water share, the BRS Government is spreading false propaganda that the Congress Government handed over control of the projects to KRMB. He stated, “Timely inactions and deliberate negligence resulted in non-enhancement of the water share of Telangana above 299 TMC in the Krishna basin. Delayed actions, deliberate negligence, and inordinate delay in completing ongoing projects in the Krishna basin have thereby missed the opportunity to claim before the Tribunal and other forums. Telangana’s proposal for project handover with conditions reflects the intricacies of water management,” he said.
He announced that the Congress Government would not surrender its rights over the Krishna and Godavari Rivers and would continue to fight to protect its interests. Uttam Kumar Reddy made it clear that in view of the historical injustice and the current situation, the House hereby resolves that the Government of Telangana shall not hand over control of common projects to KRMB unless the conditions put forth by the state have been fulfilled.