Hyderabad: Telangana and Maharashtra will sign an agreement on Tuesday to build irrigation projects on the Godavari river, benefitting farmers from both the states

Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao and his Maharashtra counterpart Devendra Fadnavis will sign the agreement at the Inter-state Board for Joint Irrigation Projects between Maharashtra and Telangana in Mumbai.

The inter-state water board was constituted in March, following an in-principle agreement between the two states. The board has 23 members each from both the states including their respective chief ministers.

The steps taken by Telangana and Maharashtra governments to construct irrigation projects will resolve a decades-old dispute on water utilization of Godavari river and its tributaries. 

River-water sharing is a contentious issue between states because it is tied to the fate of farmers. As a result, water supply or the lack of it acquires political undertones in the parched lands of Telangana and south-western Maharashtra. 

The importance of water sharing and irrigation projects can be gauged from the fact that chief minister Rao visited Maharashtra in July 2014, a month after assuming power. This is his third visit to Maharashtra in three years.

Under the agreement, Telangana will take up the construction of Medigadda, an inter-state barrage proposed under Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project, at 100 metres full reservoir level (FRL). The barrage, located 20 kilometres downstream of Kaleshwaram in Warangal district will irrigate 1.64 million acres in Telangana and 50,000 acres in Maharashtra with the help of four small lift irrigation projects.

Telangana shelved Pranahita-Chevella project to accommodate Maharashtra’s conditions and came up with a revised Kaleshwaram Project. Maharashtra had objected to Tummadi Hatti barrage at 152m FRL as part of Pranahita-Chevella forcing the Telangana government to re-engineer and redesign irrigation projects in the state, according to Sridhar Rao Deshpande, officer on special duty to Telangana’s irrigation minister. 

After detailed negotiations between the two state governments, Telangana would sign an agreement to construct Tummidihatti project at 148m FRL on Pranahitha, a tributary of Godavari. 

The two neighbouring states will also jointly take up Chanaka–Korata project at 213 FRL on Penganga river with 105 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) capacity. About 102 TMC of water would be utilized by Telangana, while Maharashtra would utilize 5 TMC. 

After final negotiations, an agreement for survey of construction of Digras barrage proposed by the Maharashtra government will also be signed. 

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