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Telangana: Irrigational Disparities in Andhra Pradesh
S.Prabhakar (Former Special Secretary, Irrigation Dept., Govt. of A.P.)

Geographically, Telangana is a part of Deccan plateau bounded by Godavari Pranahita rivers in the north and Krishna river in the South. In addition to these two major rivers there are several minor river basins which traverse the length and breadth of Telangana.

Agriculture is the main occupation of over 75 per cent of the population, therefore, any development model for Telangana should focus on agricultural development. The success of agriculture mainly depends on providing irrigation facilities. The importance of irrigation is known historically and all the benevolent kingdoms of past have tried their best to create as many irrigation facilities as possible for the benefit of the people. The Kakatiya kings have done pioneering work in 13th century by constructing small and medium sized water storage reservoirs in the topographically undulating area of Deccan plateau. These water storages provided irrigation facilities to thousands of acres of cultivable lands. There were hundreds of such storages notable among them being Ramappa, Lakhnavaram, Pakhal and Ghanpur Lakes, which even today are functioning and stand as our proud heritage.

Historically, Telangana region was part of Hyderabad dominion, ruled by the Nizams of Asafjahi dynasty. The Hyderabad State comprised Telangana, Marathwada and part of Karnataka. The State which had three distinct languages was ruled by the Nizams up to September 1948.

The Nizam Government also encouraged the construction of minor irrigation storages to provide water to and lands. At the beginning of this century, the available statistics indicate that there were 21,000 small tanks providing irrigation facilities to 8,80,000 acres.

Development of Water Resources in Hyderabad State

The rulers of Hyderabad State realised the importance of water resources development from the second decade of this century. Ali Nawaz Jung, an engineer of Nizam prepared a comprehensive water resources development plan for the exploitation of vast water potential available in the major river basins of Godavari and Krishna. In 1920's, the tributaries of major rivers were tackled by constructing several medium sized irrigation projects, the notable among them being Pocharam, Dindi, Palair, Wyra, Manair and anicuts at Ghanpur on Manjira and Khanapur on Godavari.

As a first step towards the development of major irrigation systems, a major irrigation project was planned on river Manjira by proposing the construction of 140 feet high dam and a storage reservoir with huge canal system to, provide irrigation facilities to 2,75,000 acres. The masonry dam was one of highest in India at that point of time and it was designed and constructed by the Hyderabad engineers. The construction of dam was started in 1924 and completed in 193 1. The project was inaugurated by the Nizam of Hyderabad and named as Nizamsagar Project. The canal system and other infrastructure such as roads and communication were completed in subsequent years. The project provided irrigation facilities for two crops in an year and also provided irrigation facilities to 20,000 acres of sugar cane crop. As a result a sugar factory at Bodhan was established with crushing capacity of 2500 tones, one of the largest sugar factories of Asia at that time. The Nizamsagar project was constructed to utilise 58 tmc of Manjira waters. The Nizamabad district became the most prosperous district of Hyderabad State on account of Nizamsagar Project.

Godavari river being the largest river flowing through the state, a major multipurpose project was proposed for irrigation and hydroelectric power development. The project proposals envisaged the construction of high dam across Godavari near Pochampad and Godavari north canal on the left and Godavari South canal on the right to benefit 20 lakhs of acres for irrigation in Adilabad district from the north canal and Karimnagar, Warangal, Khammam and Nalgonda districts from the south canal. The project provided for utilisation of 330 tmc of Godavari waters. In addition as a part of the project the reservoir on Kadam forming the part of North canal and Lower Manair dam reservoir forming the part of South canal were also included in the project. The stage I of the project comprising infrastructure such as approach roads, buildings at the main project site and Godavari North canal and a dam on Kadam river were sanctioned. The works were grounded and were in progress.

A project across river Manjira, upstream of Nizamsagar at a place near Devanur was also proposed to provide irrigation benefits in Manjira valley in Medak district by utilising 38 tmc of water. The two hydroelectric power stations one at the dam site and one on the power canal, which provided additional supplies to Nizamsagar, were also included in the project. The work on the approach roads and camp buildings was started and land acquisition proceedings for the dam and reservoir were initiated.

Krishna river being the second largest river of the state, the development of water resources by construction of projects was commenced from 1948. First the construction of dam on Tungabhadra near Hospet was started in 1948 as joint venture between Hyderabad and Mysore Governments. The left canal envisaged irrigation in Raichur and Mahaboobnagar districts of Hyderabad State. The dam and most of the canal system was completed by 1956, except the last leg of canal benefiting Mahaboobnagar district, which envisaged water utilisation of 19.20 tmc. Due to states reorganisation the entire project went to Karnataka and extension of canal into Mahaboobnagar district was stopped.

The construction of Rajolibanda Diversion Scheme was taken up on river Tungabhadra and the head works and canals were mostly completed by 1956, but due to States reorganisation, the head works and part of the canal went to Karnataka and most of the canal came to Telangana to benefit 84,000 acres in Mahaboobnagar district, by utilising 15.90 tmc of water.

The investigation was completed and project reports were prepared for upper Krishna and Bheema Projects which envisaged the utilisation of 54.40 tmc and 100.60 tmc, respectively, for the benefit of Mahaboobnagar district. These projects were committed and approved but not grounded.

The Hyderabad State engineers started the investigation of a major project on the river Krishna and detailed project reports were prepared at two sites namely Yeleshwaram and Nandikonda after studying various alternatives. The project as finalised provided for utilisation of 132 tmc of Krishna waters for the benefit of 10 lakh acres in Nalgonda and Khammam districts. The Hyderabad Government approved the project with only left canal and the entire planning, investigation and designs were completed for the Nandikonda site since the Madras Government was not interested at this site as they had already proposed the Krishna-Pennar project from an upper location to take water to Madras State. In fact this was one of the main reasons for the Andhras to start a big agitation which finally resulted in formation of Andhra State. It is only when separate Andhra State was formed in October, 1953, that on their request, the Nandikonda (named as Nagarjuna Sagar) project was made a joint project between Hyderabad State and Andhra State and an agreement was signed in 1954 for equal sharing of 132 tmc for left canal and 132 tmc for right canal. The Nagarjuna Sagar project was inaugurated in 1955 by the Prime Minister of India Shri Jawaharlal Nehru and the execution was taken up. A joint Control Board was set up to implement the project proposals as agreed by both the states.

It is very clear from these events that the Hyderabad Government had planned in a big way for the optimum utilisation of huge water potential of Godavari and Krishna rivers for the benefit of people of Telangana and to provide extensive irrigation facilities to the farmers of Telangana area.

Water Potential of Telangana

The broad position as on l- I l- 1956, in respect of the water resources utilised and committed for utilisation for irrigation in Telangana area is given below.

Godavari Valley

A: Water utilisation under completed projects
I.. Major Projects
1. Nizamsagar Project 58.00 tmc
2. Medium Irrigation Projects 21.70 tme
3. Minor Irrigation Schemes 21.00 tmc
Total 100.70 tmc
B: Projects committed and under construction
I. Major Projects
1. Godavari Valley-multipurpose project 330.00 tmc
2. Kadam Project 15.00 tmc
3. Lower Manair Dam Project 12.00 tmc
4. Devanur Project 38.00 tmc
Total 395.00 tmc
C: Projects Investigated
1. Icchampally Project 350.00 tmc
Godavari Valley Total 845.70 tmc

Krishna Valley
A: Water utilisation under completed Projects
I. Major Irrigation
1. Rajolibanda Diversion Scheme 15.90 tmc
2. Medium Irrigation Projects. 36.10 tmc
3. Minor Irrigation Scheme 90.80 tmc
Total 142.80 tmc
B. Projects in Progress
1. Nagarjuna Sagar left canal 132.00 tmc
2. Tungabhadra Project left canal extension 19.00 tmc
Total 151.20 tmc
C. Projects Investigated
1. Upper Krishna Project 54.40 tmc
2; Bheema Project 100.00 tmc
Total 155.00 tmc
Krishna Valley Total 449.00 tme

State Reorganization

With the States reorganisation in November 1956 when Telangana was made part of the enlarged state of Andhra Pradesh, the real problem of the development of water resources started and all the major irrigation projects planned and programmed for implementation in Telangana area suffered serious set-backs. The Godavari and Krishna river basins got trifurcated, the sharing of water by respective regions became inter-state problem. The States Reorganisation Act clearly provided that all the projects which are grounded and committed for implementation before the states reorganisation should not be stopped and the rights of the people benefiting from such projects were protected under the Constitution. But unfortunately the Government of Andhra Pradesh did not take any action and on the contrary created obstacles in the implementation of the projects benefiting Telangana area. This also suited their interests, since the amounts earmarked for Telangana projects could easily be diverted to the projects benefiting the Andhra area. The Telangana leaders and ministers never took any interest in projecting the claims of Telangana projects and to safeguard the rights accrued on account of States Reorganisation Act.

The result was the immediate stoppage of Godavari Valley multipurpose, project, abandoning of Devanur project and no negotiating with Karnataka for the extension of Thungabhadra left canal, already sanctioned and under execution.

Irrigation development in Telangana was practically at standstill for seven years from 1956 to 1963. During this period no irrigation project in Godavari valley was taken up on the pretext of inter-state water dispute. After several representations by the people and some of the leaders of Telangana, quoting extensively from the S.R. Act, the then Irrigation Minister, Government of India issued an order permitting utilisation of just 67 tmc of water at Pochampad by construction of low dam in 1963, for irrigation of 5,70,000 acres in Karimnagar district. The foundation stone was laid in July 1963, but the budget allocation was almost negligible. For a project the cost of which was estimated at Rs 40 crores, the annual allotment was Rs.50 takhs. This went on for 6 years till 1969, and only when the agitation for separate Telangana State took a serious turn, the A.P. Government enhanced the allotment to the project.

This is just a sample illustration of happenings in one project and there are similar stories in respect of all the projects of Telangana.

Godavari River Basin

The Godavari river has its catchment area in five states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Orissa. A dispute arose among various states on sharing of Godavari river waters. The Government of India, under its Constitutional powers, appointed a tribunal under the chairmanship of Justice Bachawat. The Godavari Water Dispute Tribunal in its final award only ratified and pronounced that various agreements reached between different states as final and binding for the states. A.P. authorities blindly signed the agreement without even looking into its contents. Andhra Pradesh in fact agreed to give whatever the Maharashtra or Karnataka wanted and did not even put up a token claim to safeguard the existing utilisation of Telangana projects in. Godavari Valley and future requirements of Telangana Projects.

The G.W.D.T. permitted Andhra Pradesh to utilise to the extent of 1480 tmc of water, based on 75 per cent dependability.

The broad distribution of water is given below

I: Existing projects and projects under construction 680 tmc
II. Future Projects to be taken up 800 tmc
Total 1480 tmc

I. Existing Projects

1. Nizamsaar Project 58.00 tmc
2. Kadam Project 11.60 tmc
3. Sriram Sagar Project (Stage 1) 140.27 tmc
4. Singur/Manjira Water supply scheme 15.99 tmc
5. Medium Irrigation Projects 48.44 tmc
6. Minor Irrigation Schemes 85.70 tmc
Total 360.00 tmc
1. Dowleshwaram Project 263.60 tmc
2. Medium Irrigation Projects 14.60 tmc
3. Minor Irrigation Schemes 41.80 tmc
Total 320.00 tmc
Total for existing schemes 680.00 tmc

The dependable water available for future projects is 800 tmc. The water allocation should normally be made considering the catchment which contributes to the river system and cultivable area available for irrigation in the basin. The catchment area of Telangana is 61,780 sq miles (79 per cent ) and the catchment of Andhra is 16,420 sq.kms (21 per cent ). The cultivable land of Telangana in Godavari basin is 25.2 lakhs hectares and in Andhra 10.7 lakh hectares, which form 70 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively. If both or either of the above criteria is applied the water allocation to Telangana and Andhra to be in the ratio of 70 per cent and 30 per cent of 1,480 tmc which works out to 1,036 tmc and 44.4 tmc. The Andhra has already used 320 tmc, and the balance it can claim is only 124 tmc. But the Andhra Pradesh government without considering any basis has earmarked 405 tmc to Andhra future projects, the Polavaram alone getting a share of 4-5 tmc. In all fairness, from out of the unutilised waters of 800 tmc, the Telangana future projects should be allotted at least 560 tmc and 240 tmc can be given to Andhra future projects.

Shortfall in Utilisation

The review of utilisation with regard to the completed and under construction projects of Telangana show considerable shortfall as indicated below :

S.No. Project Allotted quantity Present utilisation Shortfall
I . Nizamsagar Project 58.00 tmc 33.00 tmc 25.00 tmc
II . Kadam Project 11.00 tmc 9.50 tmc 2.10 tmc
III . SRSP (Stage1)Project 140.27 tmc 65.10 tmc 75.17 tmc
IV . Medium Projects 48.43 tmc 34.60 tmc 13.83 tmc
TOTAL 258.30 tmc 142.10 tmc 116.10 tmc

The shortfall is mainly due to inadequate allotment of funds and diversion of allotted amounts to other projects. The SRSP (Stage 1) started in July 1963 is still not fully completed even after 33 years.

Even it all on going irrigation projects of Telangana are completed in Godavari Valley, the total irrigated area will be only 7.10 lakh hectares out of the total cultivable area of 25.20 lakh hectares, which is just 28 per cent whereas in Andhra area the existing percentage of irrigated area to cultivable area in Godavari valley districts is 56.50 per cent.

Krishna River Basin

The Krishna river originating from Mahabaleshwar in Western Ghats traverses 1,280 km through the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh before it joins Bay of Bengal. It enters Telangana first, covers maximum distance. Telangana contributes 68.50 per cent of its catchment area as against 31.50 per cent from Andhra area. The Hyderabad State envisaged the utilisation of 459 tmc of Krishna waters for the benefit of Telangana area to irrigate vast tracts of lands in drought prone districts of Mahaboobnagar, Nalgonda and Khammam. Out of which the projects for 294 tmc were either completed or were in progress.

The Krishna water dispute tribunal assessed the availability of water in Krishna river as 2060 tmc at 75 per cent dependability and allotted 800 tmc to Andhra Pradesh. The allotment to Telangana was 266.83 tmc, Andhra 500.17 tmc and Srisailam reservoir losses 33.00 tmc. The Telangana requirements were completely overlooked. The allotment to Nagarjuna Sagar is 106.20 tmc against the requirement of 132 tmc; only 17.84 tmc was allotted to Jurala project on Krishna as an alternative to upper Krishna project extension (54.40 tmc) and Bhima Project (100.7 tmc). So the loss to Telangana in water-allocation due to States Reorganisation on account of these two projects alone is (155.10 minus 17.84) 137.26 tmc.

The main reason for such reduced allocation to Telangana projects is due to lack of proper presentation by the A.P. Government to the Tribunal for safeguarding the interests of Telangana area. On the contrary Nagarjuna Sagar Project benefiting the Andhra area got an allotment of 174.80 tmc, and the Srisailam reservoir which was included as a new project, basically a balancing reservoir, got 33 tmc as evaporation losses. The shocking part of it is that even the allotted 106.20 tmc under Nagarjunasagar left canal for Telangana area was reduced by manipulation of levels and alignment of the left canal during the stage of design and execution. This resulted in actual utilisation coming down to 89 tmc. In effect the Nagarajuna Sagar project first started by the Hyderabad Government for utilisation of 132 tmc to Telangana area came down to 89 tmc; a loss of 43 tmc due to formation of Andhra Pradesh.

Krishna Surplus Waters

The Tribunal allotted 800 tmc to A.P. out of dependable flow of 2060 tmc. However Tribunal allowed the Andhra Pradesh, being a terminal state, to utilise surplus waters over and above the allotted quantity without acquiring any right, on such utilisation until the time of next review in 2000 A.D.

There were a number of meetings on this issue and it was agreed by various parties representing Andhra and Telangana that the surplus waters should be used equally for the projects of both regions. To start with it was agreed to take up the following two projects from each region:

Andhra Area

1. Telugu Ganga project for utilising 29 tmc

  • Srisailam right bank canal for utilising 10 tmc
      Telangana Area

      1. Srisailam left bank canal for utilising 30 tmc

      1. Bheema lift irrigation scheme for utilising 20 tmc

      But in practice the above two projects of Andhra area were taken up and are in progress from the last 13 years and an amount of over Rs 1200 crores have been spent till now. They are commissioned whereas neither of the two Telangana projects has seen any progress. As an eyewash the Srisailam left bank canal project was put on ground by executing canal part of the work, without even attempting final identification of source of supply. A controversy was created whether to get the water to Srisailam by tunnel or to lift water from Nagarjuna Sagar reservoir. There is no decision on this from the last 13 years, and since 2000 A.D. is just three years away, there is no possibility of this project being taken up and completed. The Bheema lift irrigation scheme is still in cold storage.

      Irrigation in Krishna Basin

      The catchment area of Krishna from Telangana is 51,628 sq.km (68.50 per cent) and whereas the catchment from Andhra is 23,741 sq.km (31.50 per cent). The water allocation for Telangana is 266.83 tmc (37.50 per cent) and the allocation for Andhra is 500. 17 tmc (62.50 per cent). The cultivable area of Telangana in Krishna basin is 22.40 lakh hectares. The total irrigated area from all the irrigation projects is 5.38 lakh hectares which is about 24 per cent. In Ranga Reddy district it is 9.76 per cent, Mahaboobnagar 14.27 per cent, Nalgonda 21.68 per cent and Khammam 33.07 per cent. But the percentage of area irrigated by Krishna waters in Andhra area is 76.72 per cent in Krishna district and 63.10 per cent in Guntur district.

      Telangana: Irrigation Disparity

      The Telangana region which has a cultivable area of 47.60 lakh hectares will have an assured irrigation facility of only 8.57 lakh hectares with all the existing projects and on completion of all the ongoing major and medium irrigation projects. The overall percentage of assured irrigation to total cultivable area is 18 per cent, which is the lowest by any standard. This vast irrigational disparity, in spite of having considerable water potential, is mainly due to the deliberate neglect by all the Governments which were in power from I- 11-56, to deprive the benefits of irrigation to Telangana farmers and to keep the economy of the region backward. Today Telangana is one of the most under-developed and economically backward regions in India. This is primarily due to the setback it received in the development of irrigated agriculture. A study conducted in the command areas of various irrigation projects in different parts of the country has shown that the income levels of farmers in post irrigated period have improved by 5 to 7 times generally and in some instances the increase is up to 14 times. One can imagine how much damage has been done to the economy of Telangana as whole in the last 40 years when the region was deprived of a water utilisation of 472 tmc, which could have provided irrigation to about 19 lakh. hectares of cultivable lands.

      Future of Irrigation in Telangana

      Naturally every one is upset and wonders whether is it possible to do any thing in future with such a huge backlog and damage inflicted on the water front.

      There is always hope, provided the people of Telangana as a whole take up this issue seriously and make a united effort to tackle the problem. The normal method of submitting petitions and memoranda may not solve the issue. Everybody interested should sit together and do some serious thinking and adopt a very bold and innovative approach in selecting the projects and continuously fighting for their sanction, implementation and completion.

      The Telangana region, being a part of Deccan plateau is in a disadvantageous position, as regards gravity flow irrigation. Since most of the water which it could have got has been deprived and taken away due to political and regional considerations, the cultivable area of Telangana is in-between the contours of + 300 and + 2000 ft. The water availability as on today in these elevations is very limited. Therefore, any future irrigation development of Telangana should have much greater lift irrigation component. Where the flow irrigation potential is still available it could be fully used.

      New Irrigation Projects proposed for Telangana
      Name of Project Water Utilization Ayacut (in hectares) Districts benefited
      Ia. Flow Irrigatioin Projects(Major)
      Sriramsagar (Stage 11) 69.80 2,80,000 Warangal, Khammam ;Nalgonda
      Penganga Project 12.00 48,000 Adilabad (Joint venture with Govt.of Maharashtra)
      Pedda Vanglada 8.40 33,000 Adilabad
      Srisailani left bank canal 30.00 1,20,000 Nalgonda
      1b. Flow Irrigation Projects(medium)
      Ten medium irrigation Projects 16.50 66.000 Nizamabad Adilabad & Khammam
      Total Flow Irrigation Projects 136.70 5,47,000
      II. Lift Irrigation Projects
      Pranahita lift irrigation scheme 12.00 48,000 Adilabad
      Bheema lift irrigation scheme 20.00 80,000 Mahaboobnagar
      Jurala lift irrigation@scherne 18.00 72,000 -do-
      Icchampally left irrigation project 350.00 14,00,000 Warangal Karimnagar Khammam, Medak Ranga Ready, Mahaboobnagar
      Total of lift irrigation schemes 400.00 16,00,000

      All the above projects are important and should be taken up without any further delays. However I will make a special mention of one project on which depends the future prosperity of Telangana.

      Icchampally Lift Irrigation Project

      The Godavari river has huge water potential only after its confluence with Indravati. The Icchampally site on Godavari is after the above confluence. A major multipurpose project was planned and investigated by the Hyderabad Government before 1955. The reservoir level was originally fixed at + 410 ft. level, which was reduced to + 370 ft. level. The project was proposed as joint venture with Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The sharing of irrigation and power benefits were contemplated to different states. But the reservoir formation results in several serious problems. It will submerge 2,70,00 acres of land which includes 54,900 acres of prime reserved forest in three states. It also submerges 148 villages with a population of 90,000, most of them being tribals. The project report has been prepared and sent to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Government of India. The Governments of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have not agreed for the Project and have expressed their unwillingness for any submergence in their states. The Government of India has rejected the project altogether as unacceptable due to environmental problem and has advised the state government to drop the reservoir proposal. There is no hope of reservoir project materialising in future. Telangana development is closely linked with the utilisation of available Godavari waters at Icchampally. Therefore, an alternative project is proposed to be called "Icchampally Lift Irrigation Project".

      1. The construction of Barrage (Low Dam) across river Godavari at Icchampally site with water level of the pond at + 300.00 ft. At this level of + 300.00 ft. there will be no submergence of any land, forest or a village, and the water is stored only with in the river margins.

      2. The lifting of 350 tmc of water from Icchampally Barrage to various locations in Telangana area by installing suitable pumping stations, to provide irrigation facilities to 14 lakh hectares of and lands in seven districts of Telangana.

      3. The laying, of pumping mains from the Barrage site to intermediate storage

      reservoir, the first of such reservoir being, Pakhal Lake in Warangal district.

      4. Lifting of water from Pakhal Lake to Hanamkonda and laying of pumping mains.

      5. Distribution system to provide irrigation facilities to upland areas of Warangal and Khammam districts.

      6. The laying of pipeline from Hanamkonda to Lower Manair Dam.

      7. Lifting water from lower Manair Dam to provide irrigation to the upland areas of Karimnagar and Medak districts.

      8. Pumping and gravity mains from Hanamkonda to Shamirpet lake near Hyderabad.

      9. Provide irrigation to Jangoan, Bhongir and Ramannapet areas of Warangal and Nalgonda districts.

      10. Laying pumping main from Shamirpet lake to Haldi Project reservoir in Medak.

      11. Providing irrigation facilities to Gajwel, Medchal and Sangareddy areas of Medak and Ranga Reddy Districts.

      12. Laying pumping and gravity mains to Himayatsagar and Osman Sagar reservoirs near Hyderabad City.

      13. Provide drinking water to the city and irrigation to the areas in R.R. district.

      14. Laying of gravity and pumping mains from Himayatsagar to Makhtal Mahaboobnagar district.

      15. Providing irrigation to and areas of Mahaboobnagar district.

      16. The overall project proposal includes the improvements to various existing storages where necessary and forming new storages where essential for balancing purposes.

      17. The water distribution system comprises of open canals, piped supply lines, sprinkling irrigation systems and drip irrigation systems, depending on the area, levels and topography.

      18. The usage of water will be in most economical way by using all the modern methods of water management and crop water requirements. The project outlined above is feasible and essential for the development of Telangana.

      A detailed and comprehensive project preparation is necessary. The government may not have the necessary. manpower and expertise to prepare a project of this type and magnitude.

      A consortium of experts comprising of civil engineers, irrigation experts, power engineers, agricultural experts, economists and social workers will have to be formed to study the detailed aspects and prepare a project report.


      Different organisations working for the development of Telangana should take up all the issues raised in this paper and work unitedly till the goal is achieved.

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