Letter to the Hon’ble Minister of Jal Shakti

From:       Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
                        Formerly Chief Technical Advisor – WMO/UN & Expert – FAO/UN
                        Fellow, Telangana Academy of Sciences & AP Akademy of Sciences
                        Convenor, Forum for a Sustainable Environment
                        Hyderabad, TS, (040)23550480


Shri Gajendra Singh,
 Hon’ble Minister of Jal Shakti
 Government of India, New Delhi

C.C. AP-CM & TS-CM, Chairman-KRMB

Hyderabad, TS, 27th February 2021

Sub:    Observations on “Regarding inter-linking of Godavari-Kaveri via Krishna”

Hon’ble Minister of Jal Shakti,
“With All Respect”
n Inter-linking of Rivers   
Water Wars will be imminent threat with Lopsided Water Assessments & Decisions

As I said in my earlier letters to state CMs & Jal Shakti Ministry that water is not available to inter-linking of Godavari with Kaveri and suggested instead initiate Ganga-Kaveri, Jal Sakha ministry appears to be contemplating to reduce the height of Polavaram [while Almatti Dam height is being raised illegally] under the disguise of cost. Who was responsible for the delay in completion of the project? It is CWC. Who was responsible for cost escalation? It was CWC with the fictitious proposal of 50 lakh cusecs instead of 38.2 lakh cusecs maximum flood water. Now the Task Force Committee headed by Sreeram Vediri, I has a doubt whether he is representing for GoI or TS.

Also, it appears that AP government is surrendering AP peoples’ interests to serve political interests of BJP government at the centre. We have already seen this with Agri Bills, metering of agri pump sets and now will AP support “reduction of Polavaram dam height”.

Water availability in Krishna and Godavari Rivers varied between 1000 to 4500 with a mean of about 2400 tmc ft and 1000 to 6000 with a mean of about 4000 tmc ft, respectively with continuous years presenting below the average and above the average. The coming periods are under below the average system only in both the rivers.

CWC says plenty of water available in Krishna and Godavari. In the case of CWC, they used poor model on one hand and on the other the estimates under Godavari refers to high rainfall 30 year period of 60 year cycle that, though fortunately Krishna River water covers both below and above average period of 30 years. Godavari River water used by the Bachawat Tribunal followed the 60-year rainfall cycle and Krishna River water followed 132 year cycle.

While assessing the water availability, 60-year cycle must be taken in to account in the case of Godavari River water flows. Here let me give a case of Brahmaputra River. Very recently Scientific Groups studied tree rings for 7 centuries [1309 to 2004] for the reconstruction of water flows in Brahmaputra.  In fact the two major dry periods [1835-66 & 1956-1986] identified by them followed the 60-year cycle in all India annual rainfall [June to May]. Also frequency of occurrence of heavy floods in Chenab, Ravi & Beas [data of MoEF/GoI, 2009] followed this 60-year cycle. Here we must remember the fact that 100% to 75% of probability level we experience deficit towards 1000 tmc ft with few tmc ft going in to the Sea; and  from 25% to 1% of probability level we experience excess towards 6000 tmc ft that help more water going in to the Sea. 75% to 25% probability levels is the water available for the riparian states. In this range rarely surplus water is available.

The idea of inter-linking of rivers is not new. It was on going issue in India. Bachawat Tribunal while clearing the Polavaram Project cleared the inter-linking of Godavari River with Krishna River. Here, knowingly or unknowing the period of data on water flow in Godavari River  used refers to one full 60-year cycle of All-India Annual Rainfall period. More or less the same was the case with Krishna River. All the three riparian states agreed on Bachawat Tribunal data series. However, the 2nd Tribunal bulldozed the opposition on the data series. He used high rainfall period and as well followed CWC to favour Karnataka.

Rainfall is highly variable from region to region. Inter-linking of rivers though this is a good concept, now political parties are misusing to get political mileage – vote bank politics -- and destroying the very basic foundations of the concept. With Tamil Nadu elections are around the corner, central government is in a hurry to push the issue of interlinking of Godavari with Kaveri via Krishna.

The following information was given by the Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti & Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Rattan Lal Kataria in a written reply in Rajya Sabha: “The draft Detailed Project Report (DPR) of Godavari (Inchampalli/Janampet) – Kaveri (Grand Anicut) link project consisting of 3 links viz., Godavari (Inchampalli/ Janampet) - Krishna (Nagarjunasagar), Krishna (Nagarjunasagar) - Pennar (Somasila) and Pennar (Somasila) – Kaveri (Grand Anicut) link projects has been completed by National Water Development Agency (NWDA) and sent to party States in March 2019.  Godavari River to Nagarjunsagar dam (through lifting) and further south for meeting the demands of Krishna, Pennar and Kaveri basins.       As per the draft DPR, the cost of the project has been estimated as Rs.60361 Crore at 2018-19 price level by NWDA. The stage of implementation of a project would be reached after DPR is prepared with the consensus of concerned States and the requisite statutory clearances are obtained. Pooling of resources is decided after completion of final DPR.

Last year, Nitin Gadkari, the then Water Resources Minister had said that Godavari-Kaveri River linking project would resolve the water disputes of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The project will make use of 1,100 tmc ft water of Godavari which is currently being wasted by going directly into.  It is far from the truth.

The basic question is while preparing DPR committee used CWC estimates or observed data series taking in to account the rainfall cycles – natural variability part of climate change. If the DPR is based on CWC data series may lead to “Water Wars in future” among the riparian states that come under inter-linking. I don’t know whether the Central Government appointed task force under the Chairmanship of Sreeram Vediri has taken this in to account or not. In fact I sent my observations on CWC water estimates on India Rivers through their model wherein it presented about 30% overestimates.

Draft DPR says that 247 tmc ft of water can be diverted from Godavari River to Nagarjunasagar. On this, some basic issues need an answer in view of the existing illegal water use in both the river basins by riparian states, namely:

·       Is 247 tmc ft of water will be available every year? If not for how many years it is available? If more than two consecutive years not available then what is the solution? In all these who will decide and will all the riparian states abide by that decision?
·       Who will bear the cost of lifting 247 tmc ft of water or if not how to share it? Will all the riparian states agree for that?
·       On its way how much water is going as pilferage --- using motors -- or leakages due to poor workmanship?
·        What will be the impact of Karnataka & Maharashtra water use pattern from the Krishna & Godavari Rivers on linking of rivers?
·       What will be the reaction of Tamil Nadu during low water availability years? Will TS & AP agree to share the water with Tamil Nadu in such a scenario?

Finally, I have two basic questions to Sreeram Vediri, Chairman, Task Force Committee on inter-linking of rivers in India:

·       Why the committee is in a hurry in taking up Godavari-Kaveri linking with umpteen disputes among riparian states instead of Ganga-Kaveri linking? It appears that the plan of Polavaram dam height reduction is part of this great game!!!
·       Who will be the “gaining state” and who will be the “loosing state” with the proposed scheme of Godavari-Nagarjunasagar?
·       By reducing Polavaram dam height, flood water is not going to affect???

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Feb 28, 2021

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy