Prof.T.Shivaji Rao,

Director, Centre for Environmental Studies,

Gitam University, Visakhapatnam    (detailed sub-basins map)  (detailed sub-basins areas)

The Krishna river rises in the Western ghats from a water spring at an elevation of 1360 meters and after flowing over a distance 1400 km joins the Bay of Bengal. Out of its drainage area of about 2.6 lakh of which 27% lies in Maharashtra, 47% in Karnataka and 29% in A.P. state. The shape of the river basin is very wide, fan shaped in the western ghats where very high intense rainfall of about 3000 mm is received during South West monsoon which gradually gets reduced to 500 mm middle part and subsequently raises to 1000 mm on the East Coast. The river has many important tributaries like Koyna, Ghataprabha, Malaprabha, Bhima, Tungabhadra, Musi and Munneru river. The total annual average flow in Krishna river is 67,675 million cubic meters (2396 TMC, Thousand Million Cubic ft.)

The gross sown area is more than 16 million hectares, forming 80% of the cultivable area. The percentage of irrigation is about 21%. The soil consists of black, red, laterite, aluminium, mixed soil, etc., Ground water can be tapped from open wells and bore wells in most of the areas of basin. Tanks and wells irrigate about 40% of the irrigated lands. Drought conditions prevail due to failure of monsoons and hence irrigation systems were developed since 1850s. After independence a number of irrigation projects were executed by the basin states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. With the growth of population there is an escalating demand for food production and hence more land is brought under irrigation in all the states without a corresponding increase in the availability of fertile river water for irrigation. Since the upper states have been diverting the natural river flows to meet their own rising demands for food production, the riparian rights of the farmers in the lower states are getting adversely affected resulting in conflicts over the sharing of the dwindling river flows.

When the states were quarreling over the sharing of this river water the Union Government appointed a tribunal on 10-4-1969 to resolve the Krishna river water dispute and this tribunal is known as Bachawat Tribunal and its reports of 1973 and 1976 are known as the Bachawat Tribunal Reports.

Bachawat Tribunal distributed the 75% dependable annual yield of Krishna water amounting to 2060 TMC (Thousand Million Cubic ft.) at 560 TMC to Maharashtra, 700 TMC TO Karnataka and 800 TMC to Andhra Pradesh and added the regenerated flow of 25 TMC to Maharashtra, 34 TMC to Karnataka and 11 TMC to Andhra Pradesh state under Scheme A But if the above absolute quantities are treated in terms of ratio of 560:700:800 for distribution of the average annual flow of 2396 TMC (which includes the surplus waters) it becomes Scheme B; as considered but not recommended by the Bachawat Tribunal.

Infact when Telugu Ganga scheme was to be launched Dr.K.L.Rao warned that there was no water in Krishna to be used for irrigation in Rayalaseema and to supply to drinking water for Madras. But the then Irrigation Minister Mr.N.Sreenivasulu Reddy told a press conference on 23-4-1983 at Hyderabad that there was surplus water in Krishna rive due to under utilisation by Karnataka and Maharashtra.

But the scenario drastically changed now due to excessive storage in several reservoirs in Maharashtra and Karnataka state including the over-sized Alamatti dam. Moreover due to extensive deforestation in Western ghats perpetrated by the Maharashtra and Karnataka Governments for supplying the wood for number of industries and paper mills there has been a gradual reduction in forest cover resulting in reduced inflows into the major rivers and their tributaries. Hence the dependable flow in the Krishna River itself has come down and consequently the allotted quota of 800 TMC by Bachawat Tribunal has not been realized during the past 2 to 3 years and it is not likely to be realized in the coming future.

1. Under the circumstances it is necessary for the A.P. state Government to demand for the implementation of Scheme Bformulated by the Bachawat Tribunal which clearly stated that unless Krishna Valley Authority is constituted scheme B cannot be implemented. The Bachawat Tribunal states that as follows:
Under Scheme B we declare that in every water year the parties shall be entitled to use the waters of the river Krishna in certain proportion, if the total use made by all the three states in that water year is upto the dependable flow and if the total use made by the States in a water year is more than the dependable flow, it is to be shared by the three states in certain different proportions. This Scheme takes note of the fact that in every water year, surplus or deficiency, as the case may be is to be shared by the three statesChapter XIV , Page 270 of Bachawat Tribunal Report).

2. The Government of India under clarification No. 6 pleaded before the Bachawat Tribunal that they have not expressly provided for the sharing of the deficiency in the river flows when monsoon rains fail and drought conditions occur. The Union Government requested the tribunal to consider the matter and indicate some modus operandi to ensure that shortages in Krishna river flows are shared by the basin states in a fair and equitable manner. The tribunal was further requested to consider giving directions on provisions of adequate river sluices to release water from the reservoirs of upper states to save the crops in lower riparian rights. But the tribunal emphasized that A.P.State will be at liberty to use the excess flow in surplus years and must bear the burden of the deficiency in the river flows in the lien years. Maharashtra refused to provide sluices in Tata Hydel works constructed long ago and stated that Ujjani dam was cleared by the Planning Commission without river sluices and that Koyna dam was cleared without larger number of river sluices and the question involved a) Cost of providing river sluices, b) Safety of the dams, c) whether river sluices would confer substantial benefits to A.P. state.

3. Karnataka argued that the water for irrigation in A.P. state would have to be regulated by the state itself from its own reservoirs and that water may be released not only from river sluices but also from canals, power stations and spill-ways and hence the directions need not be applied to river sluices in the dams of the upper states. The tribunal pointed out that Scheme ‘B’ provided for the constitution of an inter-state administrative authority known as Krishna Valley Authority must be established by agreement between the basin states or by any law made by Parliament to regulate the river flows in all the basin states and should determine the necessary sluicing facilities to release water from the existing reservoirs as well as new ones and that necessary works for this purpose must be carried out immediately. The tribunal stated that if the water to be used in a year is within 2060 TMC, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh state shall share roughly in the proportions of 560:700:800. Under Scheme ‘B’ which insists that from 1st of May to 30th of September in any water year the Krishna Valley Authority shall not direct transfer of water from any project in any upper state except during the times of acute water shortage and also to meet the urgent need of water by a lower state. Maharashtra and Karnataka objected against Krishna Valley Authority to direct transfer of water from an upper state to a lower state in a water year before the end of October for several reasons including the fact that during the North East monsoon A.P. gets the highest benefit while Maharashtra gets the least benefit.

4. The Scheme B was totally opposed by both Karnataka and Maharashtra before the Bachawat Tribunal for various reasons in May 1976 but now Karnataka wants its implementation to get extra water of 183 TMC at 50 percent of the surplus flow of Krishna river amounting to 366 excluding regenerated water. Since A.P. Government refused to accept Scheme B Karnataka Government pressurized the Union Government and got illegal permission from the Planning Commission in 1990 to build an over sized Alamatti dam to utilize about 400 TMC of water from Upper Krishna Projects of Hippargi, Alamatti and Narayanapur dams and a similar scheme proposed to use 440 TMC by Karnataka was rejected by the Bachawat Tribunal. Under Upper Krishna Project the tribunal allotted only 103 TMC in 1973 and sanction additionally another 52 TMC making a total of 155 TMC for Upper Krishna Project and subsequently the Karnataka Government allotted from its own quota another 18 TMC making a total 173 TMC. More scientific information on the safety aspects of the dams in the Krishna basin and the related environmental problems can be obtained from the following BBC website on Alamatti dam which has been constructed by the Karnataka Government by violating the spirit of the Bachawat Tribunal Award at the behest of the Planning Commission and Central Authorities.

5. Since Narayanapur dam one of the components of upper Krishna Project has storage of 38 TMC its water utilisation will be about 57 TMC and consequently the water utilisation from Alamatti must be limited to 116 TMC. Since the water utilisation in these reservoirs is estimated at one and half times the storage capacity, the water storage at Alamatti has to be limited to 78 TMC only which means that the full reservoir level must be kept at about 516.5 meters (1705 ft.)

6. Union Minister of water resources wrote to Chief Minister of A.P. State that Karnataka will not be permitted to store water above 518.70 meter at Alamatti. But Karnataka has been permitted to store water upto 519.6 meters by the Expert Committee, which amounts to illegal permission to divert about 80 TMC of extra water by Karnataka. Moreover Karnataka has installed several pumping stations in the Alamatti reservoir to divert enormous quantity of water from Alamatti reservoir and hence about 100 TMC of water which should naturally flow into Andhra Pradesh is sought to be diverted by Karnataka and consequently A.P. state will never get its allotted share of 811 TMC of water from Krishna river.

7. In case the allegation made by Karnataka that Maharashtra is building reservoirs to store water beyond the quota allotted by the Bachawat Tribunal is true, naturally A.P. may not get even half of the shareof 800 TMC of water allotted to it by the Bachawat Tribunal and these facts were presented 6 years back by the A.P. Chief Minister on 10-8-1996 to the Central Government. Hence Andhra farmers are placed in a helpless position because Karnataka by its over -sized Alamatti project has rendered the Srisailam and Nagarjuna sagar dams built at a huge cost most inefficient for power generation and irrigation purposes and perhaps redundant in the long run
8. With this years bitter experience A.P. State Government must demand for constitution of a tribunal on sharing of Krishna river water to devise a mechanism like Krishna river valley authority which can be empowered not only to maintain the status-quo with regard to water allocation made by the Bachawat Tribunal in 1976 but also to allocate additional quota from the surplus water subject to the condition that the river water is shared by the states in the same proportion as envisaged under scheme B of the Bachawat Tribunal Award. Moreover the storage of water in a reservoir must be restricted to two thirds of water allotted for utilisation under the relevant reservoir. The actual reservoir storage could be less in case the project fails to satisfy the requirements of dam safety, risk analysis and disaster management as envisaged by the Environment Protection Act and Dam Safety Guidelines formulated by the Union Ministry of Water Resources.

9. Moreover since the command area will be supplied with water by canals their capacities and their off-take levels from the reservoir regulators must be so controlled as to prevent extra discharges into the canals. Taking advantage of the higher levels of the water storages as sought to be used by Karnataka for hydro power generation which is secondary use.

10. The farmers and opposition party leaders of Krishna basin can file a public interest litigation case in the Supreme court against the Union Government and Karnataka Government to restrict the storage of water in Alamatti dam upto 516.5 meters only for the utilisation of 173 TMC of water under the Upper Krishna Project which comprises of the storages a Hippargi , Alamatti and Narayanapur reservoirs. The public interest litigation petition must challenge the validity of the expert committee report in fixing the full reservoir level at Alamatti at 519.6 meters as it permits diversion of excessive water above 173 TMC ear-marked by the Karnataka state under the Upper Krishna Project.

11. The Maharashtra Government is reported to have taken up water diversion from Ujjani reservoir to use extra water. Besides Maharashtra has increased the hydro-power generation in the Western ghats by diverting 150 to 200 TMC of water which joints the Arabian sea. Alternative arrangements for power generation must be provided by the Central Government to Maharashtra to stop the hydro power generation for diverting that water into Krishna river for utilisation by Andhra Pradesh for drinking, industrial and irrigation purposes. Similarly the Union Government must build 2 to 3 major dams to divert flood water of Godavari into Krishna basin and Cauvery basins without jeopardizing the interests of Rayalaseema and Telangana.

12. For maintaining water quality in several streams and rivers used for drinking, industrial use, irrigation and fisheries. A certain degree of purity of water has to be maintained by diluting the municipal and industrial pollution entering into them and consequentially a fraction of the Krishna water should be allotted for these ecological purposes and the state Pollution Control Board may be directed to work out the detailed quantities of water required by following the Supreme Court judgement given in the case of the Yamuna river in this regard.

In order to resolve this Krishna water dispute, the A.P. state Government has to consider these points for including the same in their representation to the Union Government for seeking the appointment of a tribunal for redistribution of water among the basin states of the Krishna river.

In summary the following suggestions may be considered to solve the Krishna River water sharing between the basin states.

1. The Central Government shall direct the Maharashtra Government to make use of alternate resources like coal or gas based power generation instead of using enormous quantities of the precious waters of river Krishna for Hydro-power generation and their subsequent wasteful discharge into the Arabian sea since the first priority for water is for drinking and irrigation and hydro-power generation gets a low priority as suggested by the late Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to Maharashtra Government in 1963 itself.

2. The augmentation of flow in the Krishna river and its tributories can be enhanced by building small reservoirs on the western margins of the watershed of the western ghats to tap the rain water during the monsoons which is now wastefully join into the Arabian sea and transfer the water from these small reservoirs into the tributories of Krishna river lying on the Eastern side of the Western ghats.

3. The availability of more water in the Krishna basin can be achieved by over seeding the clouds which are discharging the rain on the western side of the western ghats so that the monsoon winds will push them over to the mountains on the Eastern side of the Western ghats when the  resultant clouds can be reseeded with chemicals by using ground generators and aeroplanes to get 50 to 60% additional annual rainfall to augment the annual yield in Krishna river. see the  web sites for details on cloud seeding methods to be used to increase the annual rainfall   -   

4. The Union Government shall be requested by the basin states to construct 3 major dams on Godavari river to divert the frequent flood flows and transfer the water into Krishna basin, Pennar basin and subsequently into Cauvery basin by making the Southern states and the beneficieries under the projects as partners in a project construction organisation known as Godavari projects Construction Corporation to be constituted by the Central Government onlines similar to those followed in the case of Tehri and Narmada projects.