OPEN LETTER TO HON. CHIEF MINISTER OF MAHARASHTRA:
Water Diversion from Krishna basin by Koyna and Tata Dams:
Maharashtra is violating Human Rights, National & State Water Policy
August 18, 2015
Dear Shri Devendra Fadnavis,
As we all know, large parts of Maharashtra, including Marathawada and Western Maharashtra (part of IMD division called Madhya Maharashtra) are in the grip of biggest monsoon deficit in the country with deficits of 48% and 33% respectively at the end of August 17, 2015 as per IMD. Even beyond the state border, North Interior Karnataka has monsoon deficit of 45%, Rayalseema 36% and Telangana 23%.
Farmers in all these regions are in distress, rainfed Kharif crop, the only crop for most of them, may have been jeopardised for almost all of them. Most of the reservoirs have paltry storages, the biggest in the Krishna basin, Ujani in Maharashtra and Nagarjunsagar in Telangana (also catering to parts of Andhra Pradesh) have zero % in live storage, Srisailam has paltry 9%. Millions of farmers and people are facing the prospects of livelihood loss and severe water scarcity.
While the situation is this serious in Krishna River Basin and adjoining basins, in Maharashtra, huge amounts of water is being diverted from the Krishna basin to the water surplus Konkan region which has seen close to 1600 mm rainfall already. This westward diversion of water from the east flowing Krishna-Bhima basin ultimately takes the water to Arabian Sea, while the Krishna basin, which should have the first right over this water, remains plunged in massive water scarcity. Krishna basin is thus being deprived of its water.
Koyna and Tata Dams in Maharashtra The westward diversion of water from Krishna basin to Konkan and further to sea is happening through the four stage Koyna Dam with total installed capacity of 1920 MW. These projects, as per the daily reports of Maharashtra Load Despatch Centre, generated 291.33 Million Units (MU) of power between July 1 and Aug 17, 2015. As per Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal Award, Koyna is annually diverting 1911 MCM (Million Cubic Meters) of Water. So assuming proportionate diversion, Koyna project would have diverted 187.14 MCM during July 1 to Aug 17.
Similarly the three Tata Hydropower stations (Khopoli, Bhivpuri and Bhira) with total installed capacity of 297 MW generated 156.66 MU of power during July 1 to Aug 17, 2015 as per daily generation reports of Maharashtra Load Despatch Centre. As per KWDT award, Tata projects divert 1413 MCM of water annually, so in the period under review, they are likely to have diverted at least 180.11 MCM on pro rata basis calculation.
So between July 1, 2015 and Aug 17, 2015, Koyna and Tata dams have diverted about 367.25 MCM of water FROM Krishna basin to water surplus Konkan region and down to sea. As we had noted earlier, the indications were already available in early July that these regions were facing massive rainfall deficit, crop failures and water scarcity.
Available water These projects also have substantial water storage today. Koyna dam has 2095 MCM water, which is 74% of its capacity and Tata dams (Mulshi, Andhra, Walwand, Shirawate and Lonavala) have 620 MCM water, which is 55% of their storage capacity, compared to Ujani dam and Nagarjunsagar Dams, which have ZERO water and Srisailam has 9% in live storage.
The collective amount of 2715 MCM of live storage water in Koyna and Tata dams can be easily released into the Bhima-Krishna basins and this can benefit the whole of Krishna River Basin, right till the tail end in Krishna Delta.
Residents of the Krishna Basin have the first natural right over this water, but this massive 2715 MCM water is not to be released for the Krishna basin, but is slated to flow to water surplus Konkan and down to sea. This is when the whole Krishna basin is facing severe water scarcity.
Sir, the westward diversion of 367.25 MCM water from Krishna basin during July 1 to Aug 17, 2015 by these dams could have been avoided if Maharashtra government had taken timely action. Even now the 2715 MCM water stored in these dams can be released for the rightful use of the people in Bhima and Krishna basin if the Maharashtra government were to take action immediately.
Sir, by not taking this action, Maharashtra government is depriving the residents of Krishna basin from rightful use of the water of the Krishna basin. Maharashtra government is thus not only violating the National and Maharashtra State Water Policy & MWRRA Act, but also Human Rights and Right to life of the people of Krishna basin. This water can help the critically parched Marathwada too through pipeline supply to Osmanabad and Latur and also peripheral areas though the Seen Madha Link Tunnel.
Why Maharashtra can afford to forgo loss of power if westward diversion is stopped:
While stoppage of such diverion by Koyna and Tata dams will entail some loss in power generation, it needs to be remembered that power generation is a lower priority in National and Maharashtra State Water policy compared to drinking water and agriculture water use.
So you will only be following the National and state policies and laws by directing stoppage of water diversion from drought affected Krishna basin.
Secondly, much more power is being generated today by alternative sources like wind and solar today in Maharashtra and elsewhere. For example, during July 1 to Aug 17, while these dams generated 447.99 MU (Million Units) of power, Wind and Solar power generation was almost four times more in Maharashtra alone at 1647.32 MU.
Thirdly, all over India, today power generation capacity is outstripping the power demand, so there is insufficient offtake of power generated, so much so that plant load factors of Thermal Power Plants have gone down below 60% and some say below 50%, from highs of 75-85%. The prices of power traded at power exchanges have come down to below Rs 2.5 per unit and substantial power is going unused for the lack of demand or transmission capacity.
In such a situation, Maharashtra can certainly afford to forgo some power geneation from these dams, in the interest of rightful water use in Krishna basin for the drought hit farmers and others in the state and the basin.
Electricity Act 2003 supports stoppage of such generation during Natural Calamity Fourthly, the section 11 of the Electricity Act of 2003 gives legal powers to the government to change the operation of any power project in response to various situations, which includes “Natural calamity”. Severe drought indeed qualifies as Natural calamity. The government can stop diversion of water by Tata & Koyna dams from the Krishna-Bhima basin using this legal provision.
Violation of National Water Policy The National Water Policy 2012 says: “Safe Water for drinking and sanitation should be considered as pre-emptive needs, followed by high priority allocation for other basic domestic needs (including needs of animals), achieving food security, supporting sustenance agriculture and minimum eco-system needs. Available water, after meeting the above needs, should be allocated in a manner to promote its conservation and efficient use.” (Emphasis added.)
It is clear that use of water for “achieving food security, supporting sustenance agriculture and minimum eco-system needs” has higher priority compared to other uses including power generation as per National Water Policy. By not stopping westward diversion, sir, you will be violating NWP 2012 as also the state water policy and Maharashtra Water Resources Regulation Authority Act of 2005.
Violation of Human Rights and Right to life The westward diversion of Krishna basin water to Konkan and sea, while people in the Krishna basin are suffering drought, crop loss, loss of livelihood and water scarcity, is also violation of Human Rights and Right to life for the people of Krishna basin. We hope, sir, you will reverse this and stop this westward diversion.
Former Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar recently toured Marathwada to understand the drought scenario and in his address talked about “diverting west flowing rivers to the east for Marathwada.” Before attempting anything like that, we can simply secure that east flowing rivers flow to the east, at least in drought situations!
Tata Power responds without sensitivity or application of mind Sir, while Maharashtra government and Koyna dam authorities did not respond to our earlier press release of Aug 7, 2015 on this subject, Tata Power did, following front page story in DNA newspaper on Aug 9, 2015. We appreciate the response from Tata Power, but as we have noted, this response is without application of mind or sensitity towards suffering people of Krishna basin, whose water Tata Power is diverting.
Sir, in view of the above, it is clear that the first right over use of the 2715 MCM of water now available in Koyna and Tata dams (and more that will flow into these dams in the remaining part of this year) is that of the people of Krishna basin.
This water is currently slated to be diverted out of the drought affected Krishna basin. It is technically feasible to release this water into the Krishna basin rather than diverting Konkan and then to sea. Such release and stoppage of westward diversion would be according to the National and State Water Policies, MWRRA Act, Human Rights and Right to Life of the people Krishna basin.
There will be power loss in such stoppage of westward water diversion, but under current power situation in the state and the country, it should be possible to bear this loss without too much impact. Perhaps the costs of drought mitigation, tanker and train deployment, etc, would be comparable with this cost. Electricity Act 2003 also supports such stoppage during Natural Calamity.
We hope all this is sufficient for you to take urgent action and direct urgent release of this water to the Krishna basin from Koyna and Tata Dams and also direct stoppage of westward diversion from Krishna-Bhima basins.
The water released by these dams can be taken used across the basin in multiple ways in the interest of the drought affected farmers and others. For example water released from Tata dams could flow to Ujani dam (which is at Negative Storage or below the zero live storage level currently) and from there can be used in the basin. It can be taken to Beed and Osmanabad in Marathwada through pipelines already in place for drinking water supply. Through the Bhima-Seena Link Tunnel, it can flow into Seena River and can be used by bordering parts of Marathwada and Solapur District for drinking water, provided it is possible to ensure that it does not get used up for sugarcane and sugar factories and such other non essential water use activities.
Very strict restrictions on the proper use of this water based on priorities of drinking water and livelihood agriculture have to be maintained.
Sir, people of Maharashtra and India will look forward to your response on this issue.
Parineeta Dandekar (Pune) and Himanshu Thakkar (Delhi)
 http://www.imd.gov.in/section/nhac/dynamic/Monsoon_frame.htm as on August 18, 2015 at 11 hours.
 See the latest CWC reservoir bulletin of Aug 13, 2015: http://188.8.131.52:83/DocumentUploadRoot/DocumentId_3519/BULL_13.08.15.pdf
 http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-ncp-chief-sharad-pawar-to-meet-pm-modi-fm-arun-jaitley-over-farmers-loans-2115146, for more details, see: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/drought-and-marathwada-an-oft-repeated-tragedy/