Mahanadi-Godavari-Krishna-Pennar-Cauvery link project and its tryst with riparian states

The fate of three crucial links — Godavari-Krishna, Krishna-Pennar, and Pennar-Cauvery — having an estimated potential to irrigate lakhs of hectares, now depends on the approval of riparian states.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Jul 10, 2024 | 6:36 PM Updated Jul 10, 2024 | 6:36 PM

Cauvery River. (Creative Commons)

Karnataka has reiterated its opposition to the National Water Development Agency’s (NWDA) memo to release excess water from Mahanadi to the Mahanadi-Godavari-Krishna-Pennar-Cauvery link project.

The state is opposing the NWDA memo since it has allowed 15.89 tmc of water from Mahanadi’s 147 tmc for drinking and industrial purposes, ignoring Karnataka’s irrigational needs.

Karnataka has been pushing for a larger share of water. Water Resources Additional Chief Secretary Gaurav Gupta has written a letter to the NWDA on 1 July, expressing displeasure over the proposed allocation of water to Karnataka.

He also presented the state’s demands, including water for irrigation, and revising the water allocation.

With the issue seemingly snowballing into a controversy, the focus shifts to the Union government’s ambitious project to link the Mahanadi and Brahmaputra river basins with the water-deficient regions of Southern India, promising to revolutionise the agricultural landscape and addressing drinking water woes.

The fate of three crucial links — Godavari-Krishna, Krishna-Pennar, and Pennar-Cauvery — having an estimated potential to irrigate lakhs of hectares, now depends on the approval of all party states, including Chhattisgarh and Odisha, which are still to give their consent.

Also Read: Maharashtra blocks flow of Krishna river to Karnataka

The National Perspective Plan

The Government of India introduced the National Perspective Plan (NPP) in 1980 to address water scarcity by transferring water from surplus basins to deficit basins.

The NWDA is entrusted with implementing the Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) project under NPP.

The NPP consists of two components: Himalayan Rivers Development and Peninsular Rivers Development. A total of 30 link projects have been identified, with 14 under the Himalayan component and 16 under the Peninsular component.

Pre-Feasibility Reports (PFRs) have been completed for all 30 links, while Feasibility Reports (FRs) and Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) have been finished for 24 and 11 links, respectively.

The Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP) in Bundelkhand (spread over Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh) is the first project under NPP to be implemented. The works are underway for this project.

Also Read: Unraveling the century-old Cauvery river dispute

Mahanadi- Godavari-Krishna-Pennar-Cauvery link project

The Mahanadi-Godavari-Krishna-Pennar-Cauvery link project is a vital NPP component.

This ambitious project seeks to transfer surplus water from the Mahanadi and Brahmaputra river basins to augment the Godavari River, which will then be diverted to the Krishna, Pennar, and Cauvery river basins.

Godavari-Krishna-Pennar-Cauvery link project is envisaged to divert 7,000 Million Cubic Metres (MCM) of water annually from the Godavari basin to the Krishna, Pennar and Cauvery basins.

This massive endeavour is expected to provide irrigation benefits to approximately 9.44 lakh hectares, significantly impacting the agricultural landscape of the region.

The link project has been identified as one of the priority schemes under the NPP. The NWDA completed the DPR for the project and circulated it among the riparian states in April 2021.

The DPR takes into account the feasible comments of the party states and provides a comprehensive framework for the implementation of the project.

The project is expected to have a significant impact on the region’s water resources, providing a reliable source of water for irrigation, drinking water, and industrial purposes for Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka.

Aimed to transform the agricultural landscape of the region, the Godavari-Krishna-Pennar-Cauvery link project is expected to address water security and promote sustainable development in the southern states.

Also Read: Supreme Court endorses CWRC, CWMA decision on allocating water to Tamil Nadu

Karnataka miffed over water allocation.

The Karnataka government, a key stakeholder in this ILR project, has expressed dissatisfaction with the initial water allocation plan proposed by the NWDA.

“According to the initial plan, the NWDA is planning to divert 147 tmc of excess water from Mahanadi to Cauvery via Godavari, Krishna, and Pennar rivers,” a senior official of the Water Resources Department told South First.

“The NWDA has sent a memorandum to all states party to the Mahanadi-Cauvery ILR project. Of the available 147 tmc, the NWDA has allocated 45 tmc to Telangana and 43.61 tmc to Andhra Pradesh for irrigation, drinking, and industrial purposes. Puducherry has also been allotted 2.18 tmc,” he said, requesting not to be identified.

“For Karnataka, the NWDA allocated just 15.89 tmc only for drinking and industrial purposes. It has not allocated water for irrigation. Hence, Karnataka has replied that the state is not happy with the proposal,” the official pointed out that there is still room for negotiation.

“Initially, NWDA did not allocate water for Karnataka. After negotiations, it allocated 10.74 percent of the total water to our state,” he said.

“As the water has been allocated only for drinking and industrial purposes, we are also demanding allocation for irrigation as well. We are seeking equal distribution of available water to all states,” the official added that Karnataka is expected to get up to 30tmc of water.

Also Read: Which way do the Krishna waters flow?

The lone project

“The NWDA was entrusted to implement the ILR project in 2010. Even after 14 years, the Ken-Betwa Link Project is the only ILR project that has taken off. The PFR for the Mahanadi-Cauvery ILR project has been completed,” he said.

“Karnataka is the second-most drought-prone state after Rajasthan. We are stressing the utilisation of maximum water for irrigation and drinking purposes. It is also important to note that this ILR project work do not take place in Karnataka. In all likelihood, it would be in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana,” the official added.

“This mega ILR project will get the approval if and only if the riparian states give no objection to the proposal,” he said, while referring to Chhattisgarh and Odisha withholding consent.

“Deliberations are still underway to convince both the states. Odisha is claiming that it does not have surplus water. Chhattisgarh is also making a similar claim. It is the responsibility of the Union government to convince all the states if this project has to be implemented,” the official added.

(Edited by Majnu Babu)

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