Karnataka a few steps away from implementing Upper Krishna Project | Bengaluru News – Times of India


Plenty of water has flowed down the river since the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-2 (KWDT-2) delivered its final award, and yet the Upper Krishna Project (UKP) is still stuck in limbo. Implementing the award, removing silt from the Almatti and Narayanapur reservoirs and improving crumbling irrigation infrastructure are major challenges in Karnataka’s bid to ensure UKP, one of the biggest irrigation projects in the country, is a success.
UKP consists of three phases, two of which have been implemented. The third stage — making use of 177tmcft of water allocated by KWDT-2 — is meandering through the judicial system. Some also say there is lack of government will.
The state government intends to use 130tmcft to irrigate 5.3lakh hectares in Vijayapura, Kalaburagi, Bagalkot, Raichur and Gadag districts under UKP Stage 3. However, plans are stuck as the tribunal’s final award has not been notified in the central gazette. Without this mandatory process, the state cannot use the water.
The central government says its hands are tied since Karnataka itself has challenged the tribunal’s decision in the Supreme Court. The state is seeking a bigger share. Telangana, a riparian state, has moved a similar petition.
The state has been exerting pressure on the Centre to notify the verdict, with the rider that it would be subject to final orders from the Supreme Court, just as it did with the Mahadayi tribunal verdict. The Centre, though, has refused to budge.
Karnataka has also filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, seeking a direction to the Centre to notify the final verdict. The SC, while allowing the affidavit on Monday, asked the Centre to file a reply before adjourning the hearing to November 29.
“Neither the Centre nor the state have the will to resolve the issue,” claimed Panchappa Kalaburagi, president, Krishna-Bheema Coordination Committee. “It is not a big deal if both governments make concerted efforts. The Ram Mandir issue is an example.”
Some farmers believe the state is not all that keen since it would require gigantic sums — some Rs 70,000 crore — to implement UKP Stage-3. To harness the additional Krishna water, the state will have to increase storage levels in Almatti Dam to 524 metres. But this will affect 22 villages and parts of Bagalkot town. Over 1.3 lakh acres of agricultural land will be submerged under water and a huge chunk of funds will go towards compensating and rehabilitating residents.
Many residents say rather than wait for the Centre’s notification, the state should begin rehabilitation work. “Suppose the Centre notifies the award next month, how are we going to store the additional water without shifting these villages?” asks Nagaraj Hongal, a social activist and journalist from Ilkal in Vijayapura district.
However, RP Kulkarni, retired chief engineer of KBJNL, Almatti zone, said the additional water can be utilised almost immediately since main canals have already been constructed.
Mekedatu project hangs fire
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Down south, the state plans to build a balancing reservoir cum drinking water project on the Cauvery river at Mekedatu in Kanakapura taluk, Ramanagara district. The Centre has already allowed Karnataka to prepare a detailed project report, but the TN government has opposed the project claiming it would affect the natural flow of the river.





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Sagar Biswas

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