Krishna Basin irrigation projects in Telugu States may be hit hard by rainfall deficit

The Nagarjuna Sagar reservoir, which serves a cultivation area of around 22.12 lakh acres across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, is less than half-full even in the third week of August

August 21, 2023 01:37 pm | Updated 01:38 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Back in August 2022, irrigation authorities were mulling raising the spillway gates of the Nagarjuna Sagar dam owing to a heavy floodwater discharge at the Srisailam dam upstream of the Krishna river. File photo used for representational purposes.

Back in August 2022, irrigation authorities were mulling raising the spillway gates of the Nagarjuna Sagar dam owing to a heavy floodwater discharge at the Srisailam dam upstream of the Krishna river. File photo used for representational purposes. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Crops in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh stand to be hit hard, particularly under the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, due to rainfall deficit in the upper catchment areas of the Krishna Basin in Maharashtra and Karnataka.

According to irrigation authorities, it is the first time since 2018 that the Srisailam reservoir has not acquired a surplus even in the third week of August. The Srisailam reservoir supplements water to the Nagarjuna Sagar, downstream projects, and a large number of lift irrigation/canal systems in the Telugu-speaking States.

Also read | Low water levels in major reservoirs in Andhra Pradesh paint grim picture

The ayacut (land under cultivation or irrigation) has been receiving water supply from some irrigation systems based in the backwaters of Srisailam and Jurala. Telangana has been drawing water from the Kalwakurthy lift and Andhra Pradesh from the Pothireddypadu head regulator, Kurnool-Cuddappah Canal, and the Handri-Neeva systems.

The two States have also been generating power intermittently at Srisailam since July 31 and August 7, respectively, letting water into the Nagarjuna Sagar. As on the morning of August 20, the two common reservoirs have a flood cushion of nearly 272 TMCft, a surplus.

At 7 p.m. on Sunday, Srisailam had only 103.89/215.81 TMCft. of water and in the downstream, Nagarjuna Sagar had 150.9/312.5 TMCft. storage — the two reservoirs have less water than half of their capacity. The Nagarjunsagar serves an ayacut of over 22.12 lakh acres in the two States, including 6.41 lakh acres in Telangana. Water is also drawn from the Nagarjuna Sagar for the Alimineti Madhava Reddy Project, which has an ayacut of 3 lakh acres.

The Bhima, Nettempadu and Koilsagar lifts in Telangana draw water from the Jurala Project, whereas the Handri-Neeva, the Srisailam Right Bank Canal, the Telugu Ganga, the KC Canal and other lifts/canal system in Andhra Pradesh draw water from the Srisailam reservoir. According to irrigation authorities, the ayacut in Telangana had suffered a delay in the water supply in 2017, when the Srisailam reservoir reached its full level only in the second week of October..

The Tungabhadra project located upstream of Srisailam in Karnataka has a flood cushion of 21 TMCft. and the Pulichintala Project the downstream of the Nagarjuna Sagar needed about 20 TMCft. to reach full capacity as on August 20. On the other hand, all projects in the Godavari Basin in Telangana, except Singur which still has flood cushion of 2.4 TMCft., had acquired surplus levels in July.

Volume of water received by major projects in the Krishna Basin, as on August 20, 2023

ProjectFlood water received in 2023 (TMCft.)Flood water received in 2022 (TMCft.)
Almatti203.93358.94
Narayanpur98.90303.50
Tungabhadra98.71350.03
Ujjani32.62100.70
Jurala102.84407.60
Srisailam101.76712.56
Nagarjuna Sagar39.04426.40
Pulichintala18.25235.42

Surplus water released into the sea in 2022 was 3,902.69 TMCft. (Godavari) and 276.95 TMCft. (Krishna) in 2022. This year, as on August 20, it is only 1,477.24 TMCft. and 53.18 TMCft., respectively.

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