The Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) and Telangana government have ordered separate inquiries to probe the curious case of vanished Krishna river water, that Andhra Pradesh claims to have released from its Srisailam dam for Telangana’s Nagarjuna Sagar dam. The Telangana Irrigation Department reported a shortfall of approximately 44 TMC water of the 195 TMC that Andhra says it released, from September 10 to October 30.
“Only approximately 151 TMC water reached the Nagarjuna Sagar dam. Even with 10 per cent loss due to evaporation and other reasons, about 40 TMC water is not accounted for. This huge loss cannot be attributed to anything but mischief,” Nagarjuna Sagar Chief Engineer S Suneel said.
Water released from the Srisailam dam, located in Kurnool district of Andhra, travels 100 km downstream over 48 hours to reach the Nagarjuna Sagar dam in Nalgonda district of Telangana. 1 TMC or TMC feet of water equals thousand million cubic feet of water, or 28316.85 million litres.
With Telangana alleging mischief and complaining to the KRMB, Andhra has retorted saying they have not made an issue out of the “missing” 60-70 TMC water that Telangana claims to have released from its Jurala Project for the Srisailam dam.
Telangana officials accuse Andhra of inflating figures of water released to Nagarjuna Sagar while actually diverting it to its Pothyreddypadu project, which supplies irrigation water to the parched Rayalaseema region. “The KRMB is inquiring, we are also probing. Diversion of water by Andhra after inflating figures is the only possibility. Nothing else explains the disappearance of such a large quantity of water,” said Sridhar Deshpande, Officer on Special Duty in the Telangana Irrigation Department.
He said they had suggested a way to resolve this issue. “We have requested the KRMB that of the approximately 40 TMC that is missing, 20 TMC should be added to the Andhra usage account while we will write off the remaining 20 TMC as loss.” Telangana officials believe their Andhra counterparts tampered with the telemetry equipment at Srisailam and the Pothyreddypadu head regulator to hide the water release, and to destroy discharge records. “Where did the water go?” asked Telangana’s Engineer-in-chief C Murlidhar.
The committee set up by the KRMB to study the water loss includes an engineer each of Andhra and Telangana, apart from its own officials. KRMB member-secretary A Paramesham said this was a normal process to probe any water loss. “I cannot share any more details,” he said.
A KRMB official who did not want to be quoted said, “We will look at the telemetry equipment at the Srisailam dam and the Jurala Project. If there was any mischief, it could have only happened there. Nothing suspicious was found initially so we have to conduct a detailed investigation. It is the only place we are looking at now.”
The Srisailam dam is at the border of Andhra and Telangana. While the dam itself is operated and maintained by the Andhra Irrigation Department, the powerhouse on the river’s left bank falls under Telangana’s jurisdiction. All the river discharge and release numbers are reported by Andhra, and every drop that is released either through powerhouses or spillway is meant to go to the Nagarjuna Sagar dam. Andhra Minister for Irrigation and Water Resources Management D Uma Maheshwara Rao accused Telangana of inflating “minor losses”. “Our figures are correct,” he said.
The Chief Engineer, Srisailam Project, C Narayana Reddy, denied any tampering or inflation of water discharge recordings. “I am sure even my Telangana counterparts know they are making baseless allegations. For that matter, some 60-70 TMC of water that was supposed to be released from Jurala Project in Telangana to the Srisailam dam is missing. But we have not made an issue of it. There may be some loss due to some reasons,” Reddy said.