Tungabhadra Board has helped keep disputes at bay

Of all the inter-State disputes, including the Cauvery and the Mahadayi, over sharing of water between Karnataka and the riparian States, the Tungabhadra project, also an inter-State project, is relatively free of any dispute, thanks to the formula fixed in sharing the river waters between Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh that has been in vogue for a long time. And, the constitution of the Tungabhadra Board, to monitor the release of water and protect the interests of both the States, has helped keep major disputes at bay.

The dam constructed in the early1950s across the Tungabhadra, a tributary of the Krishna, at Hosapete in Ballari district, is considered a life-line of six districts which where chronically drought prone — three districts in the State (Ballari, Koppal and Raichur) and three districts (Anantapur, Cuddapah and Kurnool) of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, and it has been quenching the thirst of the people. It is also irrigating vast patches of land and generating hydro-power.

Since inception there has been no dispute over sharing of water. In 1976, the Krishna Dispute Tribunal fixed the sharing of water and the losses in the ratio of 65:35 between Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It also fixed the quantum of releases into the river course and in the ancient Vijayanagar channels.

Though the original capacity of the dam was 134 tmcft, the tribunal allocated 230 tmcft, including 18 tmcft evaporation losses, for utilisation, keeping in view that the dam gets filled twice — during the monsoon and also during post-monsoon rain.

However, depletion in the storage capacity of the dam, owing to accumulation of silt over the years, has been a matter of serious concern. Now, both the State governments have to find a solution to recoup 34 tmcft of water, being the legitimate share of both the States, going waste into the river course. With removing silt being considered as an unviable proposition, the construction of a flood-flow canal to tap the water let out during the overflowing season and balancing reservoirs at suitable places is among the solutions being mooted to recoup the legitimate share.

In addition, local issues, including excess/unauthorised withdrawal of water from the canal by farmers in the upper reaches, violation of cropping pattern affecting farmers in the tail-end, also need to be tackled.

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