The Central government has told Parliament that the implementation of the link project of the Godavari-Cauvery rivers “solely depends” upon the ability of the States concerned to reach a consensus.
Stating this in response to a question raised by MP M. Thambidurai (AIADMK) in the Rajya Sabha, Bishweswar Tudu, Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti, said in a written reply on Monday that the Union government had made “concerted efforts” to bring about a consensus among the States on water sharing and other related issues. “As prime stakeholders, it is, however, for the party States to reach a consensus,” Mr Tudu pointed out.
As far as the Union Minister’s reply is concerned, the term, “party States,” covers Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu apart from the Union Territory of Puducherry. However, Telengana, in March this year, urged the Central authorities to invite Chhattisgarh too for any discussion on the link project as it held that the basic proposal itself involved the transfer of the un-utilised water share of Chhattisgarh.
The Minister also informed the House that “concerns” of the party States on the link project had been deliberated by the Task Force on Interlinking of Rivers at its meeting in March, as also by the Governing Body of the National Water Development Agency (NWDA), the organisation working on proposals of river links, at its meeting in July.
The project envisages the transfer of surplus water of the Godavari river from the Inchampalli dam in Karimnagar district of Telengana to the Grand Anicut, near Thanjavur, on the Cauvery. It has three components: Godavari (Inchampalli)- Krishna (Nagarjunasagar); Krishna (Nagarjunasagar)-Pennar (Somasila) and Pennar (Somasila) - Cauvery (Grand Anicut).
As part of the peninsular component, the NWDA had also prepared a feasibility report on the Mahanadi (Manibhadra) - Godavari (Dowlaiswaram) component. An alternative to this alignment was also formulated, pertaining to the Mahanadi (Barmul) - Rushikulya – Godavari (Dowlaiswaram) link. In either of the links, Odisha would be one of the beneficiary States along with Andhra Pradesh.
Originally, the idea was to transfer 247 thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft) annually from the Godavari to Krishna, Pennar and the Cauvery. But some of the States had raised questions about the availability of surplus water in the Godavari basin. Subsequently, the NWDA had recast the proposal, by limiting the transfer to about 141 tmc ft. This would be combined with the proposal to supplement the Krishna basin through the Bedti-Varda link that would be running through Karnataka, a technical feasibility report (TFR) of which was circulated to the party States in January .