Almatti dam height rise: Maharashtra seeks details from Karnataka amid fears of damages
After the Karnataka government announced that the height of Almatti dam on Krishna river will be raised, the Maharashtra government has communicated with the southern state to obtain more details on the decision.
The Maharashtra government has apprehensions that the rise in the water level in the dam could cause losses to lives and properties in a few villages in Sangli and Kolhapur that get affected by the backwater in Krishna and Panchganga rivers.
Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai had recently said that he was committed to raising the height of the dam by 5ft, and a notification over it will soon be issued. He said that he will soon visit Delhi for the necessary legal formalities and that he has held talks with leaders in the stakeholder states. This triggered reaction in the other stakeholder states – Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
“We have got in touch with the additional chief secretary, water resources department (WRD), of Karnataka, seeking for details of the plan. No concrete decision has been taken by them and it’s just an announcement. Before any intervention related to inter-state rivers by any of the stakeholders, the permission from the technical approval committee of the Central Water Commission is mandatory. The Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal award in 2013 has decided on the share of water between four states. Now our worry is over the rise in water level in Krishna and the potential threat to areas in a few districts here,” said Vijay Kumar Gautam, officer on special duty, WRD, Maharashtra.
“There is no need to react in haste. After all, it is important to see how much water is discharged from Almatti. We received very good cooperation this year during monsoon. We will decide on our stand after due discussions with Karnataka,” said water resources minister Jayant Patil.
According to WRD officers, there is no concrete conclusion that the rise in Almatti’s height will cause damage in Maharashtra.
“The Karnataka government has been very cooperative with us during the floods in Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur in 2019 and this year. Water was discharged from Almatti despite the level being below the parameter fixed under the Reservoir Operation System. It helped us in reducing the water level in Krishna and Panchganga. Secondly, it has not been concluded scientifically if the raising of height of Almatti could cause damages in Sangli and Kolhapur. As a stakeholder, we will anyway have the right to move court, if any damage is expected to be caused,” said another official.
Built in 2005, the Almatti dam has a height of 519ft, which is proposed to be increased to 524 ft. This would help Karnataka to increase its capacity to 160 thousand million cubic (TMC) ft from current 135 TMC ft of water, resulting in bringing 622,000 hectares under irrigation.