The verdict of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal has been hailed by irrigation experts, particularly the decision to increase the height of the Almatti dam. However, many are unhappy over the share of water allocated to Karnataka, when compared to Andhra Pradesh, describing it as “unjust”.
Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that the State Government was not fully satisfied with the award.
Speaking to presspersons in Hubli on Thursday, Mr. Bommai said the permission to increase the height of Almatti dam from 519 ft. to 524 ft. was welcome.
However the demand of Karnataka for 278 tmcft of water had been partially met with allotment of only 177 tmcft, which was a matter of concern, he said.
Mr. Bommai said that the tribunal had mentioned about setting up of a monitoring board.
He clarified that the State was happy but not satisfied with the award.
The former Water Resources Minister and Congress leader H.K. Patil, said in Hubli that while the tribunal's approval to increase the height of the dam was a positive outcome, the water-sharing formula was worrisome.
He said the State had staked its claim for a reasonable 278 tmcft of water in ‘B' Scheme as over 43.8 per cent catchment area of the Krishna fell in the State. Mr. Patil said that even the Bachawat Commission in its recommendations on water-sharing under ‘A' Scheme in the 1970s said that during further adjudication, the issue of Karnataka getting a share of 50 per cent of the surplus water and Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra sharing the remaining equally should be considered. The tribunal had overlooked it, he said.
Mr. Patil said that the State Government should be ready to approach the Supreme Court if things were not set right.
The former Minister Vaijnath Patil, speaking from Gulbarga, said that the allocation for Karnataka was unacceptable because Andhra Pradesh was already using the unutilised waters released by Karnataka.
The former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy welcomed the verdict.
“The award will benefit the people of north Karnataka”, Mr. Kumaraswamy said and hailed the contribution of people, who have struggled to secure for Karnataka its rightful share in the river waters.
Meanwhile, the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda said he would reserve his opinion on the award till he read the contents of the order in detail.
Krishna Water Disputes Advisory Committee member Panchappa Kalburgi, speaking from Bijapur, stated that the decision to maintain a minimum flow of 116 tmcft of water in the Krishna would benefit the region, particularly during summer.
However, Mr. Kalburgi cautioned that Maharashtra should be instructed to release water as soon as it started receiving rainfall as it would be difficult for Karnataka to release water from Almatti dam to maintain 116 tmcft flow if Maharashtra failed to release water from its dams. “The State Government should submit a proposal seeking allocation of more surplus water scientifically,” he added.
Congress MLC Khaji Arshed Ali said the State Government should stop bothering about the utilisation of water by other riparian States and focus on building dams and canals to utilise the allocated share.
Successive State governments had failed to utilise the 734 tmcft of water allocated by the Bachawat tribunal, he pointed out.
“The award had set a deadline of the year 2000 to utilise the water. This was not done and the government sought extension of the deadline by 10 years.