Friday, December 31, 2010

Tribunal verdict underlines need for diverting Godavari water to Krishna: Dr. JP

The State Government has to focus its attention on diverting the Godavari water to the Krishna basin to meet the irrigation needs of people in Telangana and Rayalaseema districts and upland areas in some Coastal Andhra districts, said Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today.

Commenting on the Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal verdict, Dr. JP told the media that the State had forgone the golden opportunity of building projects to utilize the surplus waters in the Krishna to which it was entitled under the the Bachawat Tribunal verdict of 1976. Had not rulers and parties wasted precious 35 years in wrangling over petty matters for partisan gains, the State would have enjoyed the right of first use and received higher allocation under the Brajesh Kumar Tribunal verdict now.

Dr. JP appealed to all parties to act with tact and restraint and explore all legal options open to the State since the tribunal’s verdict is akin to that of the Supreme Court. There is no point in indulging in blame-game at this stage. All of us together should do everything possible to protect the State’s interests. “When India and Pakistan could resolve the Baglihar water dispute peacefully through an international arbitrator, States in the Krishna basin can certainly resolve all differences amicably”, Dr JP said.

Dr. JP said the verdict had merely underlined the importance of going ahead with the diversion of the Godavari water to the Krishna basin. Earlier, the State had to share such diverted water with the other two riparian States, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Now that the tribunal has finally allocated all the available water in the Krishna, the State need not share the water it diverts from the Godavari to the Krishna at its own cost. “The State Government has to obtain a categorical undertaking from the tribunal that it need not share such diverted water with the other two States.”

Dr. JP said the State stood to lose because the Brajesh Mishra Tribunal estimated the total available water for allocation by reducing the dependability from 75 percent to 65 percent. Similarly, the tribunal’s permission to Karnataka to raise the Alamatti dam height would hurt State’s interests, unless timely releases downstream are enforced.

Dr. JP wanted the Chief Minister to discuss the tribunal verdict with all political parties and irrigation experts and record its objections based on reasoned arguments.

He said the Government should request the tribunal to allocate water based on 75 percent dependability and data for 113 years and not on 65 percent dependability and data for 47 years.

The State should seek release of more water from the Alamatti dam during June – July as the 10 -15tmc ft stipulated by the tribunal is meager and does not serve its kharif crop requirements.

It should press for constitution of an independent Krishna river control authority to ensure that the upstream States do not utilize more water, and timely releases to AP are guaranteed.

Since Karnataka maintains it is raising the Alamatti dam height for hydroelectric purposes, Andhra Pradesh should strive to get part of its share of Krishna water from Alamatti itself so that it can supply drinking water by gravity flow to certain areas in the State. A suitable bipartisan agreement between the two States would be in our interest.

Replying to a question on the Srikrishna Committee on the demands for and against the State’s bifurcation, Dr. JP hoped political parties and people would react with restraint and maturity once the report is out. A satisfactory solution can be found to the vexed problem if there is fair and firm leadership at the national level. Both groups should be willing to adopt a give-and-take approach. In a democracy, there cannot be winners and losers – all have to gain together. Under any circumstances, the Government of India should not drag the issue for political gain, and a finality should be given to the issue within three months

In reply to another query, he said the Government might have deployed additional police personnel to assure the people that neither life nor economy would be allowed to be paralyzed.

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