Hyderabad: Telangana and AP are heading towards a war over water with reservoirs going dry and thousands of villages in the two states reeling under acute shortage.
Water levels in two major reservoirs – Srisailam and Nagrajunasagar – that quench the thirst of as many as 5 crore people in both states together, have plummeted below minimum draw levels, forcing authorities to rack their brains on the eve of World Water Day on Monday. As the mercury hovers around the 40 degree Celsius mark, authorities admitted that providing drinking water will become a major challenge for AP and Telangana. “We have declared 359 mandals in seven districts as drought-hit. We are transporting drinking water to more than 400 villages. The situation is more severe in the Krishna basin area,” KS Jawahar Reddy, principal secretary, rural water supply and panchayat raj AP said.
On the other hand, Telangana government on Monday said a staggering 14,818 villages across the state were facing severe drinking water shortage and that ground water in 14,818 villages along with Hyderabad city was plummeting to alarming levels. In AP, about 13,000 villages are reeling under same crisis. Now both states want to take control of water wherever it is possible. Telangana that has not yet released water from Nagarjunasagar, has set off alarm bells ringing in AP. “Both dams have very little water reserves. It would last for just four more months. Releasing whatever leftover water in the dams at this juncture is not prudent. We have to ensure drinking water for Hyderabad city till fresh inflows reaches Nagarjunasagar which might happen only in July,” said Shailendra Kumar Joshi, principal secretary of Telangana irrigation department. If Telangana stays put, then there would be a water war between two states as AP is reeling under massive drinking water crisis already. In a tit-for-tat, AP is contemplating takeover of Nagarjunasagar right canal so they can release water from the dam to quench thirst of those living in Vijayawada, Guntur, Ongole, Eluru, Tenali, Mangalagiri and Amaravati.
Andhra Pradesh controls Srisailam dam, and the water release is being monitored by a chief engineer appointed by the AP government. With AP impounding water at Srisailam, drinking water supply to Hyderabad city will soon get severely affected. The one-crore plus populated Hyderabad city requires 11 tmc feet water to handle a normal summer, and this year it’s a prolonged summer in sight, says experts. With a leakage in the Godavari phase I pipeline in Karimnagar already costing Hyderabad nearly 30 mgd of water, the scenario, according to experts could get worse in the advent of no supplies from Srisailam. Similarly, with Telangana threatening to stop water at Nagarjunasagar, four major districts, Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam and West Godavari districts in AP will go dry.
An estimated 2.5 crore people live in these four districts which also includes the new capital city region. On Monday, the water level at Srisailam touched 809 feet leaving the reservoir with only 33 tmc feet water. Another major reservoir on river Krishna, Nagarjunasagar has dwindled to 508.8 feet, much below the minimum draw level. The river that once delineated and sustained the cradle of prosperity in two states is now at its all-time low. “If the water level is below the minimum draw level, water will not move at gravity. We have to use electrified pumps to draw water and it will bring in more logistic problems,” Adityanath Das, principal secretary of irrigation department, AP said.
To avert serious water crisis in two states, Krishna River Management Board issued orders allotting 6.5 tmc feet water for Telangana and 4.5 TMC feet for AP to tide over the crisis. AP waited for three days, before releasing water from Srisaialm, but finally started supplying it on Sunday.