Sunday, November 9, 2014
Srisailam Hydro Electric Project- Facts and Realities:Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao
Srisailam Hydro Electric Project
Facts and Realities
Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao
The Srisailam Hydro Electric Project was conceived in the year 1963. Subsequently the words “Hydro Electric” were omitted and named as Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy Sagar Srisailam Project. The Left Bank Power house has been shifted to the Right bank. The Power House envisaged generating pump power of 260MW at 60% Load Factor. The Commission on Project Plan (COPP) has recommended the power potential to increase to 377MW at 60% Load Factor by lowering the MDDL (Minimum Draw Down Level) of the Reservoir from 854feet to 830feet level.
Bachawat Tribunal did not make any allocation for Srisailam Hydro-electric project since it is meant for generating power and would not involve any consumptive use of water except for evaporation losses. The Tribunal however, has allocated 33TMC of water towards the annual evaporation losses in Srisailam Reservoir. The storage reservoir at Srisailam involves annual evaporation losses of 33TMC, and therefore regulated releases from the reservoir are necessary for downstream irrigation. Bachawat Tribunal in another Report reiterated that Srisailam is a Hydro-electric Project for generating power without diverting to any other watershed, which does not involve consumptive use of water except for evaporation losses and there is no irrigation component.
Thus, the Bachawat Tribunal has clarified in no uncertain terms that Srisailam Reservoir is meant purely for generating power without diverting any water to water shed except for irrigation to downstream. But the subsequent Governments have changed scope of the Project and introduced irrigation elements into the Project. Srisailam Right Bank Canal and Telugu Ganga Canal for supply of water to Chennai City have been projected by the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh Government and obtained sanction from the Central Government.
The MDDL of Srisailam Project as envisaged in the Report was at 854feet. However, the Bachawat Tribunal recommended it to be in between 838feet and 830feet. While 838 feet level was accepted by the Government of Andhra Pradesh, 833 level was recommended by the COPP. Ultimately the Government of Andhra Pradesh has fixed the MDDL of the Reservoir as 834feet vide G.O.Ms.No.69 dated 15.6.1996.
Srisailam Right Bank Canal was cleared in the year 1994 with allocation of 19TMC of dependable flows of river Krishna obtained from the savings accrued from other Projects. As per the Project Report prepared by Government of Andhra Pradesh a major portion of 19TMC of water amounting to 11.6 TMC is the crop water requirements in the Rabi season and has to be drawn from flood flows to be stored in the reservoirs at ‘Gorakallu’ and ‘Owk’. A quantity of 5.5 TMC only is proposed to be supplied directly from the canal for irrigation requirement of the crops in Kharif season under normal flow conditions.
As far as Telugu Ganga is concerned, for supply of drinking water to Chennai city an allocation of 15TMC was made. This is based on the dependable flows and through an agreement reached between the States of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The States of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka would be contributing 5TMC each. The entire quantity is to be drawn during the period from July to October.
G.O.69 was issued in the year 1996. It accords priority to drinking water than to power generation followed by irrigation supply to NS Canals, Prakasham Barrage, SRBC, Telugu Ganga and SLBC. The G.O was issued to take care of interests of the Andhra region without bothering about Telangana region. The Madras water was accorded priority over Hyderabad water supply though the city is in Krishna basin where as madras not. Irrigation for Telugu Ganga got priority over SLBC. Irrigation for Krishna Delta (Prakasham Barrage) gained priority over Nagarjunasagar Canals.
However, G.O.69 permits the supply of water for irrigation as well as for power generation up to 834feet, which is the MDDL of Srisailam Project. G.O. 107 issued later, in September, 2005 changed the MDDL from 834feet to 854feet. This was done with an intention to supply water to the Rayalaseema Projects through Pothireddipadu Regulator whose sill level is 841feet. Subsequently, G.O.233 was issued in December, 2005 specifying that the operation rules for Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar Projects prescribed in G.O.Ms.69 are also applicable for the drawls from Pothireddipadu Regulator. The G.O.69 was violated continuously. The then Government released waters to Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar Project below the MDDL of 834feet for irrigation, power and drinking purposes as and when it felt necessary. The argument put forward then was, that the state was at liberty to effect modification in the mode of supply, manner of supply and to determine the manner and the priority in which available waters are to be utilized and managed.
The Government of Andhra Pradesh grievance against Government of Telangana is that it is withdrawing large quantity of waters from the Srisailam Reservoir for power generation with the result that levels are falling alarmingly which would result in acute scarcity in drinking water and irrigation for Rayalaseema population who depend on Krishna waters. As such they requested the Krishna River Management Board to order the Government of Telangana to stop power production immediately at Srisailam and the Board accepted their version and ordered Telangana State to discontinue power production with effect from November 2, 2014.
The power crisis in Telangana is caused mainly due to violation of Power Purchase Agreements by the Government of Andhra Pradesh as provided in the A.P. State Reorganization Act. One of the alternates to meet the crisis is to generate power from Srisailam Reservoir. Withdrawal of water from Srisailam for the purpose of Power generation would not have any adverse effect on the downstream region and all the waters that were released for power generation would be available in Nagarjunasagar Reservoir without any wastage into sea. Government of Telangana neither violated in consuming more than its share nor it has gone down the permitted level as envisaged in G.O.Ms.No.69. Further, the waters used by Telangana State for power consumption was utilized for lifting the waters from bore-wells for irrigation in the water scarcity areas and the regenerated flows would join Krishna basin itself. But, the water supplied to the Rayalaseema for irrigation purposes, the regenerated flows would join the Pennar basin. Further, the water used for generation of power by Telangana State would be available in Nagarjunasagar Project for providing irrigation as well as power generation. Thus the benefits are two-fold in respect of irrigation and power for every unit of water released from Srisailam whereas in case of Rayalaseema it is only for irrigation without any benefit of power generation. Power produced at Srisailam is exclusively used for farming purpose only.
The functions of Krishna River Management Board are to regulate the supply of water to both the States in accordance with either the Tribunal Award or any agreements and other arrangements that have been arrived between the erstwhile State of Andhra Pradesh and other States or Union Territory. The Board has no authority to allocate the waters to the successor States, which is the prerogative of Tribunal. It has no brief to intervene in power production and cannot order Telangana to stop producing power. End