When the entire state’s focus is on the Cauvery crisis, unbeknownst to many around 2,000 cusecs of water is being released from the Tungabhadra dam to the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh to comply with the pro-rata allocation made by the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT).
With the drought-like condition in the state, the dam faces the threat of drying up if there is no rain before the North-east monsoon hits the region and fills up the reservoir during October-November. “If it doesn’t rain heavily and fills up the reservoir in the next few days, farmers in Bellary, Koppal and Raichur will definitely not be able to cultivate in the rabi season. Even the drinking water could be in short supply,” warned a senior official in the Tungabhadra Board (TB), a government body constituted under the directions of the President in 1953, which monitors the TB dam water allocation affairs between Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh.
Despite releasing 2,000 cusecs from the dam, which is the lifeline of farmers from Bellary, Koppal and Raichur districts in the state, farmers in Andhra Pradesh have been seeking more water from Karnataka.
Last week, Andhra Pradesh farmers from areas coming under the KC Canal, Tungabhadra High-Level Canal, Rajolibanda Diversion Scheme and Gajuladinne projects, which draw water from the TB dam in Karnataka, formed “Tungabhadra Jalaala Parirakshana Samithi” to pressure the two state governments and the Centre to release water from the dam. Samithi leaders alleged that because of “illegal use” of water by Karnataka, KC Canal and RDS Canals are not getting the allocated share of 40 tmcft of water, reducing the cultivated area in the region by over 50 per cent. They demanded that reservoirs be constructed to supply of 2 tmc ft of water to Gajuladinne project from the Tungabhadra river to the lift irrigation scheme at C. Belagal.
According to the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT), the share of Karnataka is 138.990 tmcft and that of Andhra Pradesh 73.010 tmcft. The dam has been irrigating 12 lakh acres, 9 lakh acres in Bellary, Koppal and Raichur districts in Karnataka, and 3 lakh acres in Anantapur and Kurnool districts of Andhra Pradesh.
Allegations of farmers over disparities in water allocation are not true, the board sources, who wished not to be identified, said. In fact, the problem was created by the AP government which has taken up several lift irrigation projects on the Krishna river, eyeing water from the TB dam, while being completely ignorant about the water allocations, specified by KWDT.
A senior officer said that KWDT, allocating water to the two states, had assessed that utilisation from the TB dam as 230 tmcft, including evaporation loss of 18 tmcft, and made allocations for each project. Besides, the reservoir has also lost 30 ft storage capacity due to heavy silt. “Both states have to first share the loss in water storage and then make claim for usage of water as per the pro-rata allocation made by KWDT,” sources in KWDT said.