VIJAYAWADA: Expressing apprehensions over the proposed diversion of Godavari river water to Srisailam through Telangana, Andhra Intellectuals Forum members, retired engineers and irrigation experts say it will prove counterproductive to the interests of Andhra Pradesh.
Speaking at a press conference organised by the Andhra Intellectuals Forum and Pratyeka Hoda Sadhana Samithi in the city on Saturday, they demanded that the State government safeguard the interests of AP before going for any inter-State river water sharing agreements.
Pointing out at refusal of Punjab to honour the agreement for release of water through Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal to Haryana, a State that was carved out of erstwhile unified Punjab, despite Supreme Court’s directive, Andhra Intellectuals Forum president Chalasani Srinivas asked where is the guarantee that similar situation will not arise between AP and Telangana.
“Inter-State water disputes are never-ending problems in the country. The signing of any bilateral agreement for diversion of Godavari water to other river basins in AP through the territory of neighbouring State without considering its own irrigation and drinking water needs fully, will spell disaster,” cautioned Prof NR Sadasiva Reddy from Anantapur district.
Former Drainage Board member and Rytanga Samakhya president Y Nagendranath said that the surplus water in the Godavari is flood water, which is available for a short duration. The initiative to utilise the surplus Godavari water to meet the irrigation and drinking needs of the Krishna river basin, which of late is not receiving adequate water from the upstream, is laudable. However, any interlinking of the rivers should happen within AP and not through the territory of Telangana,” he said.
Presenting his argument, he said when water flows from one place to another, the groundwater gets recharged and benefits the lands in the immediate vicinity. “In the form of Polavaram project and its Right Main Canal, the readymade setup for taking Godavari water to Srisailam to cater to the needs of Krishna river basin is already in existence,” he said.
Further, it will help Nagarjuna Sagar if Godavari water brought to Prakasam Barrage is lifted to Nagarjuna Sagar through reverse pumping. There is also a possibility of taking Godavari water from Dummugudem to Nagarjuna Sagar, he observed.“Now, it is being contemplated to take Godavari water to Srisailam through canals and tunnels passing through Telangana, which is not only costly but also unviable, given the difficulty in getting clearance to acquire land and laying tunnels through the tiger reserve,” he said, while urging irrigation engineers and policymakers to design the interlinking of rivers in such a manner that it will not affect the interests of Godavari, Krishna and other deltas in the State.
Irrigation expert Jagan Mohan Rao said that before going ahead with any bilateral agreement, the existing inter-State water pacts and River Water Tribunal awards for water distribution among the States should be taken into account. “We should not forget the clause in River Water Tribunal awards, which allows the upper riparian States to demand their share when water from a river is diverted to another,” he cautioned.
All the participants are of the view that Polavaram should be completed on a priority basis before contemplating any other major irrigation project given the precarious finances of AP.