Chief Ministers of Telangana and Maharashtra K. Chandrasekhar Rao and Devendra Fadnavis, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at Mumbai on Tuesday on setting up an inter-state water board on Godavari projects, ending decades of discord between the two States on utilisation of water in the river Godavari and its tributaries.
The agreement will pave the pay for the two States to work out mutually-agreeable specifications on the construction of Medigadda barrage, 20 km downstream of Kaleshwaram in Warangal District, as part of the Kaleshwaram Project, a component of the redesigned Pranahita-Chevella project. The barrage would allow irrigation of 16.4 lakh acres in Telangana and over 50,000 acres in some tribal areas of Maharashtra with the help of four small lift irrigation schemes.
A meeting between the officials of the two States would decide the height, full reservoir level (FRL), of the barrage likely to be anywhere between 100 and 103 meters. Speaking after inking the bilateral document, Mr. Fadnavis said that they had agreed for a pact with Telangana after the neighbouring State had explained and convinced it about various possibilities on taking up the barrage.
Mr. Chandrasekhar Rao said: “We are ready to take up construction of Medigadda barrage, if given a go-ahead by Maharashtra, immediately even as talks could continue on deciding the height of the barrage at mutually agreeable level. However, my request to Maharashtra is to keep in mind that higher the storage capacity of the barrage, larger the benefits to farmers of both the States without causing much submergence”.
He invited Mr. Fadnavis, Water Resources Minister of Maharashtra G.D. Mahajan and officials of the Irrigation Department to Hyderabad for the next meeting of the inter-state board to discuss and decide upon the levels of Medigadda and Tummidihatti barrages.
On Tummidihatti barrage in Adilabad District, the take-off point of Pranahita-Chevella project with 152-meter FRL as per the original design to which Maharashtra had opposed all through, Mr. Chandrasekhar Rao said Telangana was ready for mutually-agreeable height.
Maharahstra has already given indications that it would have no objections if the barrage height was reduced to 148 meters.
The MoU signed on Tuesday also takes forward the construction of barrages at Chanakha-Korata, Rajapet and Penpahad by the two States as part of the inter-state Lower Penganga project. The Telangana Government has already given administrative sanction for Chanakha-Korata with an estimated cost of over Rs.1,200 crore.
On the circumstances that led to the MoU, the Maharashtra Chief Minister said efforts were on between Maharashtra and the then combined Andhra Pradesh States for an agreement on Godavari waters since October 1975. “When neighbouring countries could have good relations, why can’t two States have such ties”, he asked stating that the agreement would benefit the people of Maharashtra and Telangana and they were all people of India.
Mr. Chandrasekhar Rao explained how they had been working for over an year including conducting a LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) survey for identifying locations to tap water of Godavari and its tributaries to minimise submergence in Maharashtra so that disputes could be avoided.
Irrigation Minister T. Harish Rao, Chief Secretary Rajiv Sharma, his Maharashtra counterpart, Principal Secretary Irrigation S.K. Joshi and his counterpart of Maharashtra, Ministers A. Indrakaran Reddy and J. Ramanna, Advisor on inter-state relations D. Srinivas, Advisor on irrigation R. Vidyasagar Rao, Engineer-in-Chief C. Muralidhar and a host of Maharashtra officials were present on the occasion.