Amid resistance from the opposition parties and state governments, the central government is expected to take over the operation and maintenance of three key irrigation projects – Srisailam and Nagarjunsagar on the Krishna river and Pedavagu on the Godavari river. These irrigation projects have been an apple of discord between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The Modi government had issued a gazette notification in July this year to take control of all large and medium irrigation projects with effect from October 14. However, with strong opposition from the state government and opposition parties, the Centre has decided to restrict itself to only these three projects as part of the first phase takeover. There are around 107 major and medium irrigation projects which Centre was due to bring under its control as per the gazette notification.
Of the 107 irrigation projects, as many as 36 on the Krishna river, including Srisailam, Nagarjunasagar and Pulichintala was to come under the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) while around 70 projects on the Godavari including Kaleshwaram and Polavaram were to come under the Godavari River Management Board (GRMB).
While Telangana and Andhra had agreed for the takeover of Pedavagu by the Centre, they had raised objections over handing over major projects like Kaleshwaram and Polavaram. The two state governments have contended that only major interstate projects can be taken over by the river management boards and not all the canals, lift irrigation schemes and hydel power projects.
In July, all the political parties including BJP and TDP had protested against the central government’s notification and had urged Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao to oppose the Centre’s move. TRS, which had then abstained from the meeting, has now questioned it. The parties had even suggested that the TRS government approach the Supreme Court against the notification. KCR recently told the state Assembly that the issue is now related to the state’s self-respect and urged the Modi government to postpone the implementation of the gazette notification.
While the Centre is treading very cautiously and will be partially implementing the notification tomorrow, the opposition parties and the state governments have upped the ante. If the Jal Shakti ministry tries to enforce the decision without political consultation, it might trigger a fresh political storm, that may further give the opposition the ammo it needs against the Modi government as it heads into the Lok Sabha elections.