Vijayawada: Since River Krishna is one of the two reliable sources of water for Andhra and Telangana, any talk of drawing up an additional drop of water is bound to inflame passions among the people.

Before the water flows into the project, politics overwhelm the fields. River water, as the saying goes, is highly inflammable in Telugu politics. This has once again been proven by a GO (No 203) issued on May 5, 2020 by the government of Andhra Pradesh.

The GO has accorded administrative sanction for two irrigation works, both meant to draw waters from Krishna. But it seems to have touched the raw nerve; Telangana chief minister KCR warned his counterpart not to go ahead with the projects, and the opposition Congress alleged the CM KCR’s response was lukewarm. The T-Congress has organized dikshsas today across Telangana against the GO and KCR’s approach.

Of the two projects mentioned in the GO, one is Lift Irrigation (LI) scheme, (Rayalaseema Pumping System), planned to draw 3 TMC water per day from Sangameswaram to Pothireddypadu Head Regulator (PHR) at a cost of Rs 3889 crore) and the second is an up-gradation work of PHR (cost Rs 570. 55 crore) that would enhance the drawing capacity of the regulator to 80,000 cusecs a day.

Though it took nearly a week for the Telangana chief minister to react, he said he would not hesitate to go to Supreme Court to get the projects struck down.

Congress in Telangana found more politics than concern in the KCR reaction. Talking from Khammam’s diksha sibiram, Bhatti Vikramarkha, CLP leader told Newsmeter that chief minister KCR is facilitating Andhra Projects rather than protecting the interests of Telangana people.

He alleged a link between downsizing of Lakshmidevi Palli Project on Krishna from 2 TMC to 1 TMC and Andhra CM’s plan to take 3 TMC water from Krishna.

“KCR might have some personal interest in allowing Jagan to construct the projects. How could he allow redesigning of the Lakshmidevi Palle project with reduced capacity? The order to this effect was issued on April 8, 2020, and the AP government issued GO on May 5, 2020. We want the government to take all possible steps to stall the AP projects, which are not permitted by any statutory authority,” Bhatti said.

Dr. Vamsi Chand Reddy, former MLA, and Congress leader said the proposed Andhra Projects are designed to draw as much as 8 TMC to 10 TMC of water from Krishna in the name of floodwater. Dr. Reddy hails from erstwhile Mahbubnagar district that relies on Krishna waters. He also sat on diksha at Gandhi Bhavan, Hyderabad.

“Once the projects are commissioned, where is the guarantee that they would pump water only during flood season,” Vamsi asked.

He also alleged that KCR has fixed a match with his Andhra counterpart YS Jagan. He gave three reasons to buttress his match-fixing charge. Firstly, KCR has responded leisurely after a week and after so much prodding from Congress against the Andhra GO. Second, he washed off hands by issuing a press note against his normal style of addressing press conferences and employing a caustic language. Thirdly, all the TRS leaders including people’s representatives have been silent on the issue.

Dr. Vamsi warned that Congress would organize statewide agitation, after the lockdown, if KCR allows the illegal projects to be taken up in Andhra.

But political parties in Andhra have rallied behind chief minister Jagan. State BJP president Kanna Lakshminarayan, CPI secretary Ramakrishna, Congress working President Dr. Narreddy Tulasi Reddy backed Jagan stating that the state has the right to draw waters from Krishna.

According to Tulasi Reddy, who is the party’s irrigation expert, Telangana is constructing two projects to draw 120 TMC water from Krishan without any water allocation and clearances.

“If the two projects –Palamuru-Rangareddy (90 TMC) and Dindi (30 TMC) — are completed, there would be no water available for the AP in Krishna. AP Reorganization Act 2014 bars taking up any new project by successor states without the approval from Krishna River Water Management Board. How would Jagan allow these projects which he opposed as the opposition leader in Andhra Pradesh,” said Tulasi Reddy.

Makiredd Purshottama Reddy, a water expert from Tirupati and convenor of Rayalaseema Vidyavantula Vedika rubbished the criticism from Telangana.

“Rayalaseema is a chronic water-starved region. The proposed projects are meant to draw water during flood season. Even if the state wants to pump water from the reservoir when the water level is below 854 ft. the operational capacity would be much lower. Where is the loss for Telangna? The commotion we are watching in Telangana is nothing but local politics,” Makireddy told Newsmeter.

He said if Telangana moves Supreme Court against the Rayalaseema LI project, Jagan will have no option but to challenge all illegal projects on Krishna and Godavari including Kaleshwaram in Telangana.

Jinka Nagaraju

Jinka Nagaraju is a Hyderabad based journalist. He covered the entire spectrum of political activities of Telugu states from Hyderabad and New Delhi for about 3 decades. He represented Vaartha in New Delhi during the most happening decade of 1996-2006. He was political correspondent of Times of India from Hyderabad for 10 years. He was editor of Asianet’s Telugu digital platform. He contributed to many digital media outlets such as Al Jazeera, News 18, Newsable, South Post, The Lede ,Down to Earth etc. He is known for his Anthropological approach in the news analysis. He studied Physical Anthropology and prehistoric archaeology with Human population genetics as specialization, and his area of interest is Political Anthropology and Media Anthropology.

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