sharing rivers, but not water

balagopal on river-sharing:
Small wonder then that not only the States of Karnataka and Maharashtra but the people of Telangana and Rayalaseema as well have always nursed a fully justified grievance about the distribution of the Krishna river waters. And even though there is no allocable water left in the Krishna river in terms of the Bachawat award, proposals aimed at watering the parched lands of Nalgonda, Mahbubnagar, Kurnool, Cuddapah and Anantapur districts have been put forward in abundance. And the State government too, at various points of time – if only at election time in most cases - has promised execution each of these proposals. Not counting the minor proposals, the major ones alone would need about 200 tmc.ft of water: 40 each for the Srisailam Left Bank Canal (Nalgonda district), Bheema, Nettempadu, Kalwakurthi & other lift irrigation schemes (Mahbubnagar district), Galeru-Nagari and Handri-Neeva (for the four Rayalaseema districts), and Veligonda (the uplands of Markapuram division of Prakasam district). The profusion of the demands reflects the stark reality of heart-breaking drought in these areas.
from this article ('Pulichintala - A Test Case', by K.Balagopal) at the site which isn't small enough enough to think beyond rights that i had referred to yesterday.

i'd talked about perspective here, in response to some comments. going back to the article, let's look at balagopal's perspective:
According to a note circulated by the Irrigation department in the year 1998, the Pulichintala project is slated to use 982 million cubic meters of water from the Krishna river, which comes to about 13 tmc.ft. One tmc.ft of water is sufficient to irrigate six thousand to ten thousand acres, depending on whether it is used for wet cultivation or `irrigated dry’ cultivation. Taking the latter, these 13 tmc.ft of water would irrigate 1.3 lakh acres of land. How happy would any of the above districts from Nalgonda to Anantapur be to get at least this much irrigation water, though it is nothing compared to the 20 lakh acres that would be irrigated by all the projects all of them taken together have been dreaming of for decades now!

And what use is this project going to be put to? Not even to irrigate 1.3 lakh acres of as yet unirrigated land in Krishna district, but to ensure that transplantation of paddy in the Krishna delta under the old canal system takes place in June-July. Almatti in Karnataka and increased ayacut under Nagarjunasagar in upland Guntur and Nalgonda districts are said to have slowed down the arrival of water into the Prakasam barrage in the early monsoon weeks, thereby rendering transplantation of paddy in the months of June and July uncertain, and therefore 13 tmc.ft of water will be stored in the balancing reservoir at Pulichintala to be sent down to the Prakasam barrage at the appointed time so that the schedule of transplantation that the delta farmers are accustomed to is not upset. What solicitude!
krishna, and unsolvable problems like pulichintala have fuelled discontent in telangana for a very long period. but how is balagopal's perspective different from how those on the other side of the krishna think? from the perspective of the farmers in the delta, who wouldn't share any water even with their neighbours, leave alone those on the other side? when a discussion on rights doesn't start with drinking water and wet toilets, or universally recognized human rights, for the largest number of people, i don't see how even any reallocation of water between regions, would solve any problems. inequality is embedded deep in this perspective: higher needs should be met first. so, it's always the upper caste paddy farmer, in the three regions, whose 'parched lands' would be recognized first. millions of parched throats, in hundreds of villages all along the krishna basin region, can only wait forever. does the separatist movement look beyond this casteist perspective? or at a future beyond agriculture (as defined by the green revolution)?


anu said...

one of the terrible memories i have is that of the cauvery riots, over 9000 tamils and 100 kannadigas were victims in 1991 over water sharing. some are still waiting for compensation for the loss of limb, property and livelihood. most of the tamil victims in bangalore were laborers living in slums, whose only relation to the paddy and sugarcane growing regions of tanjore and mandya would have been as ancestral bonded laborers (if they had migrated from tanjore) most of these probably had never seen free flowing water, whose daily water needs are met by standing in long lines for half a bucket of water from tankers and municipal taps. distinctly remember r.guha's answer to a press question -if the riots meant the tamils would leave bangalore? to which he answered 'none of the professionals and rich tamils were affected by it only the poor tamils were.' what an irony, the rich tamils probably had direct links to the verdant rice fields along the cauvery on the other side.

Kiran said...

Is this a balagopal really a rights activiist ? I have read his article in titled "telangana - a rights perspective" and was horrified by his opinions - AP according to him is a fine illustration of dictatorship, military rule that is prevalent in latin america. And in this separate t movement which clearly shows strong fascist tendencies he found exhilaratingly democratic forms of protest. The general style of writing is oriented towards rabble rousing with sweeping generalizations , weak and vague logic - how did this guy end up as a "professor" in CU ? I can understand OU but CU as well ?

kuffir said...


that's a very insightful observation, the truths therein would haunt me for long.. thanks for sharing.


that article in telugu was written by prof.haragopal, formerly of hcu. yes, it does rouse rabble..

apocryphal said...

I can understand OU but CU as well ?


ved said...

The case of pulichintala is one of the best illustration of separate T movement inciting hatred between regions.

If I get water from a faucet directly to drink it using my hands, is there anything wrong asking to use my glass instead, so that I can conserve it rather than losing half of it going down the drain. This is exactly the case with Pulichintala.

Pulichintala balancing reservoir is not going to take even one additional drop of water from Krishna. Currently once the water is released from NS, either it goes to the fields, or ocean. The Prakasam barrage can hardly store 2 TMC of water. In every year during rainy season hundreds of TMC of water is being wasted to sea. Instead if we store this and use it at the beginning of next year, crops can be started early. What is wrong with this idea? Most of the cost of the entire project is raised by the farmers by special tax levied against every bag of paddy harvested in this ayacut (perhaps they need to extend this concept further to fund some development projects that are conducive to Telangana..it is entirely different topic). So it is not even a case of giving funds to Pulichintala while robbing other projects. Being in the last leg of the river, how is it going to rob the upper riparian region?

While it costs tens of thousands of crores to complete irrigation projects for upper elevated regions, and god knows whether it is ever economically sustainable, should we just waste the water to sea?

Instead we get slogans from separatists that richer getting richer and whatnot. My biggest fear is that once separate state is formed, this rhetoric will reach even higher levels, and no single new project will be developed on these rivers. What a shame?

kuffir said...


balagopal was a human rights activist, chiefly. the discontent in telangana over pulichintala has existed for long, much before the trs and other organizations sprang up.

personally, i am convinced existing irrigation systems/projects like the prakasham, need to strengthened, but i am also much more convinced that the whole issue of water management needs to be looked at from a human rights perspective, across the state.

kuffir said...


welcome back:)

sravan said...

The problem is not only with pulichintala but with other projects on godavari.
The reason why telangana people protest is that all the projects that are supposed to be serving telangana are delayed indefinitely where as the project that is supposed to cater irrigation needs of a district that already enjoys more Krishna water than any district in AP is pushed forth with vigour.
The reason why this is done is because of the preferential policies adopted by the govt. in the last several years.
If the agricutural needs of Nalgonda and M'Nagar were focussed on before and enough water and technology and awareness to produce dry crops provided, there would not have been any necessity for moving water from Godavari to Krishna. Due to excess use of underground water and inadveratant cultivation of agricultural lands in upper reaches of krishna river in guntur and nalgonda under N'sagar command area has led to complete closure of Krishna Basin. The sea water has already been flooding thousands of acres under the delta and rendered them unsuitable for cultivation. Pulichintala is a desperate measure to open the basin.
However it is not the only option they have.
Other projects like ichchmpally who have better Cost-Benefit ratio and planned several decades before Pulichintala are placed on back burner while pulichintala is being built.
All other projects that shift water from godavari to N'sagar irrigate lakhs of hectares of Telangana lands at the same time. Whereas Pulichintala do not even provide water to 1 acre of Telangana. But the project is built on the border and all the submerging lands belong to telangana.

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