Andhra Pradesh · Dams · Karnataka · Maharashtra · Telangana


Release water from Koyna & Tata dams to drought hit Karnataka, Telangana & Andhra Pradesh

Large parts of South India, including parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are facing unprecedented drought and water scarcity. However, Maharashtra is sending OUT billions of liters of water FROM drought hit Krishna basin to High Rainfall Konkan region to flow to the sea.

In the Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh parts of Krishna basin, the farmers are suffering crop losses, groundwater levels are hugely depleted and polluted, people do not have drinking water on regular basis and lakhs of people are suffering severe hardship, as also are the rivers and environment. Storage in Krishna basin reservoirs is practically nil in these states[i]. Normal economic activities are not possible. However, the water that belongs to the Krishna basin, that can reduce this suffering to huge extent, is being taken away. How can this go on? This is in complete violation of National Water Policy (NWP) priorities, in complete violation of the Draft Water Framework law that Govt of India has formulated, but no action is being taken by anyone, including judiciary.

Bhivpuri project map, another Tata Dam showing how it is diverting water out of Krishna basin

Billions of liters of water, over which drought hit people should have the first right, is being diverted solely for power generation. This is totally unacceptable and must be immediately stopped. The water from the Koyna and Tata dams should be released for the drought hit areas. This should be possible without great difficulty since India is currently power surplus and thermal power projects are not generating power for lack of demand.

Khopoli Project, one of the Tata Dams

As on April 27, 2017 (the latest date for which data is available on Maharashtra Water Resources website[ii]), Koyna has 682 Million Cubic Meters of water and Tata dams have 310 MCM of water, both in live storages. This close to 1 billion Cubic Meters of water should now be reserved for release to the downstream drought prone areas and not be diverted to Konkan area for power generation. It will not only help parts of Maharashtra areas downstream from the dams, but it will also help the realy drought prone areas in Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Koyna Dam (Photo: Arpit Mishra Blog)

SANDRP has written several times on this issue in the past four years[iii], including to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra[iv], the Prime Minister[v], to the Tata Group[vi] and also to Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority. In May 2016, the Mumbai High Court made it clear[vii] that “Water is not a private property of some groups”, unfortunately none of these institutes have taken any effective steps or formulated any policy or mechanism to curb this criminal diversion of water when the people, river and the ecology that should have the first right over this water are suffering as they do now.

This year, since Nov 1, 2016 to April 28, 2017 (the date for which power generation figures are available on Maharashtra Load Dispatch Centre Website[viii]), Koyna dam has already generated 2121.83 Million Units (MU) and Tata Dams have generated 737.89 MU of power. As per KWDT award, Tata dams annually use 1413 MCM and Koyna annually uses 1911 MCM water for 90% dependable generation figures of 1249 MU and 2975 MU respectively. On pro rata basis, Tata and Koyna dams have diverted about 734 MCM and 1363 MCM water respectively from Nov 1, 2016 to April 28, 2017. This close to 2 BCM of water could have been stopped from being taken out of Krishna basin if the authorities had woken up in time.

Considering that by Nov 1 we knew about the drought situation in downstream Krishna basin, a decision could have been taken to stop or curtail such water diversions and give priority to drought prone areas’s water needs as required under NWP and also humanitarian grounds. Unfortunately, no decision was taken on Nov 1, 2016 and none is even under consideration even today.

India’s National Water Policy and Draft National Framework Law seems like toothless and non serious documents.

It is high time that at least in such severe drought conditions, the criminal diversion of water that belongs to the drought hit river basin is stopped. Everyone from Prime Minister to Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh needs to urgently act. In fact, we also hope the judiciary also immediately steps in and media also highlights this issue on consistent basis if we are to have any basic norms of justice, fairness, principles and sense of priority in water use.


Map showing westward diversion of Bhima Water by Tata Hydropower Dams (Map by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP)


[i] As per the latest weekly Reservoir Bulletin from Central Water Commission (see:, Almatti and Nagarjunsagar are below Minimum Draw Down Level, Tungabhadra has just 46 MCM, Narayanpur 125 MCM and Srisailam has 534 MCM.









  1. Good Suggestion.
    But Maharashtra Govt already released water from Ujani Dam on demand by Karnataka CM.
    Now Ujani Dam have no live stock.
    Solapur NTPC project also getting 2 TMC water from Ujani.
    Maharashtra CM agreed to release water from Koyana Dam to Karnataka.
    Tata Dam is private, hence it is impossible to take action unless High Court or equivalent authority gives order.

    Rajanish Joshi


    1. Rajnish ji,

      As far as Koyna is concerned, National Water Policy priorities, human rights and ecological needs also demand that in such times of crisis, the water OF Krishna basin be released to Krishna river, to flow down to the drought hit area.

      Even as far as Tata dams are concerned, they cannot own the water and HC said earlier. The National policies and priorities should dictate that they release the water to Bhima basin, to flow to downstream drought hit areas. They have made enough profits for over a hundred years.

      I think this message need to be hammered constantly.



  2. This is my one prayer in my writ petition in Mumbai Highcourt WP(L)1256/2016 . Which is Listed for final Hearing om 04/05/2017.!
    But water must use for drought hit Maharastra not for any other state .! Tata and koyna dam water is in the share of Maharastra as per Tribunal order .


    1. Ok, thanks, Dr Patil,
      Do let me know what happens on May 4. We have been writing about this for four years now. Do share your petition if possible on my email ( Water needs to be used in the best possible manner for prioritised needs of the people and rivers.
      Himanshu Thakkar


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