Ballari: Do people in the Cauvery basin have a lesson to learn from the Tungabhadra project where the sharing of Tungabhadra river water has been relatively free of any dispute though this too is an inter-state project with Andhra Pradesh?
Despite the occasional charges levelled by Andhra Pradesh on excess drawing of water by Karnataka farmers, the credit of making Tungabhadra project a non-controversial one goes to the Tungabhadra Board (TB Board) and the award of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal headed by Justice Sri R.S. Bachawat.
The dam constructed in the early1950s across river Tungabhadra, a tributary of the Krishna, at Hosapete in Ballari district, is considered a life-line for six districts which are chronically drought prone — Ballari, Koppal and Raichur in Karnataka and Anantapur, Cuddapah and Kurnool of Rayalaseema region in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. It irrigates vast patches of land and generates hydel power.
Since its inception, there has been no serious dispute over sharing of Tungabhadra 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 into the ancient Vijayanagar tanks and channels.
Though the original capacity of the dam was 134 tmcft, the tribunal allocated 230 tmcft, which included 18 tmcft evaporation losses for utilisation, keeping in view the fact 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. The two state governments have to find a solution to recoup 34 tmcft of water-which is now going waste owing to silt accumulation. With the removal of silt considered 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, are among the solutions being mooted.
There are some irritants like the excess drawing of water by Karnataka farmers which has an impact on Kurnool district.
Sir Arthur Cotton originally conceived the Tungabhadra Project in 1860
The project was formally launched by the Prince of Berar, who laid the foundation stone on February 28, 1945, on the left bank and by Sir Arthur Hope, Governor of Madras, on the right bank
Tungabhadra Board formed by President on October 1, 1953
TB Board looks after the dam, reservoir and canals