Tribunal allays AP fears over Almatti reservoir height

The full report of the KWDT II, made available to Deccan Herald on Friday, referred at length to the arguments made in favour and against the dam height increase from the existing 519.6 metres.

Agreeing to the reference of national and international precedents made by senior counsel for Karnataka F S Nariman, the tribunal held that the upper riparian State “has a right to construct reservoir and the lower riparian State is not entitled to veto the same, unless the reservoir causes material injury.”

In its award, pronounced on Thursday, the tribunal allocated 1001 million cubic feet (tmc) of water to AP, 911 to Karnataka and 666 to Maharashtra.  The panel had this to say on Almatti height: “Even with the FRL (full reservoir level) 524.256 m at Almatti, in any case, more than 700 tmc would be flowing down to Andhra Pradesh from Karnataka, on the assumption of loss of water to Andhra Pradesh to the extent of 230 tmc, which is far from established.

There may be some reduction in the inflows, undoubtedly, but it has no material impact on the inflows into AP from the upper riparian states. Raising of the height of FRL to 524.256 m does not cause any damage or injury whatsoever to Andhra Pradesh. There is no question of any serious damage or vital injury to AP by raising the FRL to 524.256 m.”

With regard to the issue of submergence raised by Maharashtra, the KWDT II embarked on sedimentation survey of the Almatti dam thorough Tojo Vikas International Private Limited and concluded that the Maharashtra’s “apprehensions are unfounded.”

Karnataka conceived the Almatti dam along with the Narayanpur Reservoir in 1962 as a part of the Upper Krishna Project (UKP). Before the KWDT I, Karnataka posed the dam for storage up to 524.256 m to utilise 445 tmc of water.

However, the KWDT I permitted Karnataka to utilise about 155 tmc. In 1993, the government decided to go up to 524.256 m for utilising 173 tmc of water for irrigation and as well as for generating power below Narayanpur.

But, Andhra Pradesh protested leading to the suits before the Supreme Court. The Constitution Bench ruled on April 25, 2000, that Karnataka is entitled to store water only up to 519.6 m for utilisation of 173 tmc and further storage up to 524.256 m can be considered only after allocation of surplus water by a tribunal to be constituted.

Andhra Pradesh opposed the dam height before KWDT II saying its construction would spell disaster to its established rice cultivation in the delta region below the Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar reservoirs.

Maharashtra also joined Andhra Pradesh in opposing the Almatti dam contending that it would cause submergence of its territory affecting particularly Sangli town. However, refusing to accept these arguments, the KWDT II allowed the dam height increase which will now allow use of 303 tmc under the Upper Krishna Project entirely for irrigation of 5.9 lakh hectare.

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