Staff Correspondent

`Storing over 165 tmcft water in excess of its rightful share'

  • Several `illegal' projects commissioned in Bhima basin
  • Violations have led to shortage of water in Bhima river

    BIJAPUR: Findings made by an expert committee headed by the chief engineer of the Irrigation Project Zone, Gulburga, have revealed that Maharashtra may be utilising excess water than its allocation in the Krishna basin, in violation of the award of the Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal headed by Justice R.S. Bachawat in 1976.

    According to the committee report submitted to the Government recently, Maharashtra is storing over 165 tmcft water in excess of its rightful share.

    Last October, the Department of Water Resources had ordered an investigation into the matter following a petition submitted by Opposition leader in the Bijapur Zilla Panchayat Panchappa Kalburgi, who is also president of the Bhima Nadi Neeru Rakshana Raithavarga Samiti. The tribunal had allocated a total of 585 tmcft of water in the Krishna Basin, which includes the Bhima river system, to Maharashtra, the report said.

    It also set a sealing on the maximum utilisation of water in different sub-basins of the Krishna, according to which Maharashtra can use a maximum of 300.6 tmcft in the Bhima basin.

    To use this quantum of water, according to the established norms, Maharashtra requires storage structures, the combined capacity of which can be little over 170 tmcft.

    However, according to the committee report, Maharashtra has commissioned several projects, including big, medium and small, in the Bhima basin that use 349.5 tmcft of water.

    The "illegal" projects include the Bhima-Seena Link Canal (13.5 tmcft), the Krishna-Marathwada Scheme (21 tmcft), the Barasi Lift Irrigation Scheme (2.7 tmcft), the Asti Lift Irrigation Scheme (1.5 tmcft), the Ekrur Lift Irrigation Scheme (3.1 tmcft), the Shirapur Lift Irrigation Scheme (1.7 tmcft), and barrages across the Bhima, downstream from the Ujini dam (5 tmcft).

    According to the tribunal award, Maharashtra is allowed to use a maximum of 90.2 tmcft along the main course of the Bhima.

    However, it is consuming 105.5 tmcft of water from the Ujini Dam across the Bhima alone.

    All such measures have led to an acute shortage of water in the main course of the Bhima in the State.

    Also, the report said, Maharashtra has been constructing an ambitious project diverting 68 tmcft of water to the Bhima basin from the Krishna at the cost of Rs. 4,932 crore. This project, the committee feared, would dry up the Krishna river course much earlier than it normally does. All such "illegal projects" were detrimental to Karnataka's interests, the committee said.