With Basavasagara reservoir (Narayanpur Dam) built across Krishna at Raichur-Yadgir district border and Googal barrage built across the same river at Googal village almost drying up, the water crisis has deepened in Raichur district in Karnataka and Mahbubnagar district in Telangana. After five of the eight units of Raichur Thermal Power Station (RTPS), which Karnataka is heavily dependent on for its energy needs, suddenly stopped operation due to water shortage for their cooling towers recently, 3000 cusec of water was released from Basavasagara reservoir for a week. Since the live storage at the reservoir too was less than a quarter tmc ft., the discharge was soon stopped.
With Googal barrage, about 52 km (river route) from the reservoir, receiving some water, the RTPS units slowly resumed operations one after another. Before they begin power generation at optimal level, villagers from about 60 villages in Makthal and Maganoor mandals of Mahbubnagar district, Telangana, have started demanding water for drinking purposes. They took serious objection to the temporary wall created across Krishna river by putting sand bags for holding back water for RTPS operations. They blocked the Raichur-Hyderabad national highway for three hours on Tuesday forcing Mahbubnagar district authorities to inspect the sand wall in Krishna river on the same evening.
However, Raichur district administration is firm on not clearing the sand wall. Speaking to The Hindu, Deputy Commissioner S. Sasikanth Senthil said that RTPS was using its quota of water for generating power.
"People from lower reaches of Krishna river at Mahbubnagar district in Telangana have been demanding that the sand wall be removed so that water could flow downstream. They have attempted twice to remove it on their own. I have spoken to Mahbubnagar Collector. RTPS is using water allocated to it. If power generation at RTPS is disturbed, it would lead to power crisis which in turn lead to drinking water crisis. So, we will not clear the sand wall,” he said.
“We are asking water not for industrial or irrigational purpose, but for drinking. We are facing one of the worst droughts in the recent times. Villages are facing intense drinking water crisis. Karnataka officials should understand the severity of the situation and release water to downstream area on humanitarian ground. But, Karnataka officials are rigid on the issue,” Chittem Ram Mohan Reddy, YSR Congress MLA from Makthal, Telangana, told The Hindu over phone. He warned that the villagers would have to intensify struggle if they don’ get water.
Power generation picks up
Power generation at RTPS, that had dipped to around 350 MW a week ago against its installed capacity of 1720 MW after five of its units had shut down due to shortage of water to their cooling towers, has now picked up after water supply was resumed to the power station. On Thursday, seven units were functioning almost at optimal level generating 1350 MW together. Unit-4, with an installed capacity of 210 MW, continued to remain shut since February 29 after it was taken up for annual maintenance.