The plans of Karnataka State to create new irrigation potential of over 13.26 lakh acres under Almatti and Narayanpur projects as part of its Upper Krishna Project Stage-III are certain to spell doom for the irrigation systems and drinking water needs based on Krishna river in the two Telugu States, particularly in lean years like the current year.
It has already become evident this year as to how lean flows would impact the drinking water and irrigation needs in the two Telugu States, even as the Telangana government is planning to maintain minimum draw down levels of water in all major reservoirs to assure water for drinking needs from this year onwards. The two States require about 70 TMC ft water every year for drinking needs in the Krishna basin areas.
Srisailam reservoir could get only about 30 TMC ft inflows till Monday evening from June 1 this year with about three-fourths of it coming only during the present month. Even that flood comprises inflows due to rains in the local catchment areas and the inflows into Jurala, the project above Srisailam, from Almatti-Narayanpur have been only about 25 TMC ft. Almatti, on the other hand, has received over 188 TMC ft water this year.Officials in the Irrigation Department stated that the upper riparian State has planned the new irrigation potential to utilise the water allocated to it under Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-II, the award of which is yet to come into force due to objections over allocation of water by the lower riparian States – Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. “Karnataka has been going ahead with its plans irrespective of KWDT-II award not coming into effect,” the officials said.
But for the hurdle of environmental clearance, the water delivery systems under UKP-III would have been in the advanced stage of completion by now. Karnataka has plans to utilise about 130 TMC ft water to irrigate the proposed ayacut. Besides, work on two other lift irrigation schemes in Belagavi and Bagalkot districts with irrigation potential of 1.13 lakh acres is also in progress in the Krishna Basin by availing another 5 TMC ft water. At its recent meeting the expert appraisal committee of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) has asked the Karnataka Government to obtain clearance for the project (UKP-III) by the Central Water Commission (CWC) for hydrology and inter-state aspects for considering recommendation for environmental clearance.
“In the absence of district water-sharing mechanism it would get very difficult for the lower riparian States even to meet drinking water needs in future during lean water years,” a senior official said.