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HYDERABAD : In a first, state cabinet ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh (AP) together opened the canal gates of Nagarjuna Sagar dam on Sunday, releasing water to both states. The issue of water distribution from the dam had become a major bone of contention following the bifurcation of the southern state into Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in 2014.

On Sunday, Telangana education minister G. Jagadish Reddy and AP irrigation minister Anil Kumar Yadav lifted the left (which releases water to Telangana) and right canal (which releases water to AP) gates of the dam, which has a total capacity of 315 thousand million cubic feet (TMC). The dam, built across the Krishna river, is situated on the border of Nalgonda district in Telangana and Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh.

Today’s events were in stark contrast to the events of 2015 when police officials from both states had come to blows over release of water from the dam.

The current events are the result of the political bonhomie between Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao and his AP counterpart Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy. After the 2014 (Lok Sabha and state) elections, Rao and then AP contemporary N. Chandrababu Naidu developed differences due to which issues pertaining to division of resources couldn’t be resolved.

A senior official from the Telangana irrigation department said officials from both states had met one month ago to discuss issues pertaining to division of water (the other major place being the Srisailam dam, situated on the borders of Mahbubnagar district in Telangana and Kurnool district in AP, which is built across the Krishna river). “Both chief ministers had also met some days ago to talk about this," he added, not wanting to be quoted.

As far as water supply is concerned, the Telangana government hopes to complete the mega RS.80,190 crore Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project, through which is hopes to supply 165 TMC of water to irrigate close to 19 lakh acres of farmlands across Telangana. The project envisages to draw a total of 225 TMC of water from the Godavari river, which also includes drinking water supply to Hyderabad (30 TMC) and some for industrial purposes as well.

AP on the other hand is constructing the Polavaram national irrigation project, under which the state envisages to interlink several rivers and irrigate about 75 lakh acres across the state. The project is also expected to supply 7.32 TMC of drinking water to Visakhapatnam and another 16.12 TMC of water for industrial purposes.

Before Naidu lost the 2019 state polls, the former AP chief minister had pegged the revised project cost at Rs.57,540 crore.

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