Tata Power responds on the issue of Tata dams diverting water from Drought hit Bhima Krishna basin to Konkan, but it is a vacuous, insensitive response

On the 7th August 2015, SANDRP published a Press Release titled “As Krishna Bhima basin farmers in Maharashtra, Karnataka, AP & Telangana face drought, crop failure, Water scarcity, Maharashtra DIVERTED 350 MCM water from the basin & stored another 2535 MCM reserved to release, literally to sea!”[1]. On August 9, 2015[2], DNA, a leading newspaper in Mumbai published a report based on this story as their front page top story titled “Drought? Last month alone Maha govt drained 350 MCM water into sea!”

The story talked about the direct relation of water diversion undertaken by Tata Power and Maharashtra Government for Hydropower Generation, even in the current drought and urged Tata Power and  Maharashtra Government to immediately stop this diversion, looking at the plight of farmers and residents along the Krishna Basin in Maharashtra as well as in downstream areas like Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

On August 11, 2015, it seems Tata Power sent a “Clarification Note” to DNA, which was carried by DNA on Aug 16, 2015[3], along with DNA’s response, on page 3. It was titled: “Our plants not wasting water, says Tata Power”. Tata Power’s response is given at Annexure 1, along with DNA’s response.

We are thankful to DNA for prominently publishing this story and also to Tata Power for responding to this issue which is of crucial public interest. Unfortunately, neither Koyna Dam project authority, nor Maharashtra Government have responded to the issue so far.

SANDRP’s response: While thanking TATA POWER for responding, we find their response eminently flawed and ill informed. Considering the importance of this issue, we request all concerned to respond in an informed and sensitive manner.

  1. After reading Tata Power’s response, it seems as if they do not appreciate (or understand?) that the water Tata Hydro stations use belongs to Krishna basin and the people of Krishna basin have the First Right to that water. This is especially so in the current period of severe water scarcity. Tata Power response implies that “downstream users” are somewhere in Konkan, downstream of the tail race tunnel of their power projects, which is factually incorrect!

We hope Tata Power appreciates that we are raising an issue which is about inter-basin water transfer from a water-scarce, drought-affected region to a water-surplus, high rainfall region. We are talking about the Krishna Basin (Bhīma Basin is a part of Krishna Basin), which is in a VERY SERIOUS crisis, and not about Konkan which had more than 1500 mm of rainfall already this season.

  1. Tata Power accepts that as per KWDT, their hydro stations utilize 1250 MCM (Million Cubic Meters) water on annual basis. The total water use by to the Tata hydro projects, including evaporation and other losses comes to 1413 MCM as per KWDT, so the Tata Power is agreeing with SANDRP, there is no contradiction there.
  1. As far as water use by Tata Power hydro projects during July 1 to Aug 6 is concerned, Tata Power is saying they used 98.5 MCM water, slightly smaller quantity than what we mentioned at 136 MCM, but there is no credible substantiation from Tata Power about the basis of the figure 98.5 MCM. In any case, this is a matter of detail and does not change the issue at hand.
  1. As far as available storage at Tata projects as on Aug 6 2015 is concerned, Tata Power is not contradicting that they have storage of 587 MCM, 52% of the live storage capacity of their storage. (On Aug 17, 2015, the storage in Tata dams has gone upto 620 MCM or 55% of live storage.)
  1. When Tata Power says “Similarly on the upstream side, controlled release of water is done from dams at high lake levels in Krishna basin as per overflow regulation arrangements.” (Emphasis added) they expose ignorance and confusion. Firstly, it is not ‘upstream side’ that they are talking about, but downstream of their dams within Krishna basin. Their “release on the upstream side” is actually in the natural downstream of the rivers that Tata Power has dammed.

Secondly, they release water only when they cannot use or store it and have NO OPTION but to release it. The overflow release that they claim to be making is not a favour to anyone, but a safety precaution for their own dams.

  1. Then they say “We as responsible company realize that water is also necessary for downstream users[4] from Tata Hydro Plants and make sure water is made available to them”.

Tata Power is not releasing this water in Konkan because they are “Responsible company concerned about water problems of Konkan”, but it is simply an incidental byproduct of power generation, which is their objective! Do they undertake power generation for this convoluted aim: To take away water from a water-scarce area to a water-rich area?

In Conclusion: It seems that the Tata Power has not denied anything in the SANDRP blog/ DNA story. The Note does not reflect that Tata Power empathizes with the plight of millions of people in the water-scarce Krishna basin and Tata Power’s role in worsening the crisis. An immediate release of water from Tata Power Dams to Bhima basin now will help Ujani Dam on Bhima River near the perennially parched Solapur, to recover from 0% Live Storage. Water to Ujani could also help parched Marathwada through pipeline supply system to Osmanbad and Latur and areas around Solapur.

By sending such a vacuous clarificatory note, Tata Power cannot hope to score Public Relations brownie points. It sadly exposes their ignorance and insensitivity towards a critically important issue.

Rather than this note, what Krishna basin inhabitants need from Tata Power is an immediate promise to release all the water in Tata dams to Krishna basin this year, and not generate any power. That will do a world of PR good to them.

Will Tata Power show such sensitivity?

Himanshu Thakkar, Parineeta Dandekar SANDRP, August 17, 2015

Google Earth image indicating water diversion to Konkan from Tata Dams ( marked in red arrows)

Google Earth image indicating water diversion to Konkan from Tata Dams ( marked in red arrows)

Google Map indicating the diversion from Tata Dams ( in red arrow)

Khopoli Project, one of the Tata Dams

Khopoli Project, one of the Tata Dams

———————————————————————————————————————————-

ANNEXURE 1: Tata Power Clarification and DNA response:

http://epaper.dnaindia.com/story.aspx?id=81692&boxid=30031&ed_date=2015-08-16&ed_code=820009&ed_page=3

Story from page 3 – City, DNA of Mumbai

Our plants not wasting water, says Tata Power
What Tata Power has to say This is with reference to “Drought? Last month alone Maha govt drained 350 MCM water into sea!”, dated August 9 in DNA.

TATA POWER: We would like to bring to your notice the facts that appear to have been misconstrued.

Firstly, the article mentions that the three Tata hydropower stations (Khopoli, Bhivpuri and Bhira) divert 1,413 MCM of water annually as a run-off into the sea after power generation. This works out to at least 136.64 MCM for the same period. (July 1 to August 6, 2015). We would like to clarify that the run-off is released for downstream usage before meeting the sea. After generation of power, the water is released in tail race for the downstream users. Similarly, on the upstream side, controlled release of water is done from dams at high lake levels in Krishna basin as per overflow regulation arrangements.

Secondly, the article also mentions that the Tata dams have 587 MCM water, which is 52% of their storage capacity, compared to Ujani, Srisailam and Nagarjunsagar dams, which have zero water in terms of live storage as per the latest Central Water Commission reservoir storage report. We again would like to clarify that under the Krishna Water Tribunal Award, Tata Power is permitted to utilise 54.5 TMC (1,250 MCM) water annually and, within that, 585 TMC water is allocated for Maharashtra. Between July 1 to August 6, 98.5 MCM water, which is only 6.38% of the annual TPCL quota and 0.6% of the Maharashtra quota, was utilised for electricity generation and released for downstream usage. So, the water utilisation for generation was much lower at 88.8 MCM than even the 15 years average of 116 MCM for the corresponding period between June and July, FY’15.

We, as a responsible company, make water available for the needs of habitants downstream the Tata hydro plants for Bhivpuri, Khopoli and Kolahad.

DNA REPLY: The correspondent’s reply to the above clarification:

~ It is unclear if it’s appreciated that the water Tata hydro stations use is of Krishna basin and the people there have the first right to it. What Tata Power calls downstream users from Konkan are in fact downstream of the tail race tunnel of their power projects. The report is talking about Krishna basin, which is in a crisis, and not about Konkan, which has had more than 1,500mm of rainfall this season.

~ They accept that as per KWDT, Tata hydro stations use 1,250 MCM water annually. Total water use by Tata hydro projects works out to 1,413 MCM as per KWDT, so Tata Power agrees with dna’s report, there is no contradiction there.

~ As far as water use during July 1 to August 6 is concerned, Tata Power says it used 98.5 MCM. There is no credible substantiation of the figure.

~ Tata Power is not contradicting that they have storage of 587 MCM, 52% of the live storage capacity of their storage.

~ When Tata Power says “Similarly, on the upstream side, controlled release of water is done from dams at high lake levels in Krishna basin as per overflow regulation arrangements”, it exposes the poor understanding of grass-roots realities. Firstly, it is not upstream they are talking about, but downstream of their dams within Krishna basin. Secondly, they release water only when they can’t use it and have no option but to release it.

Published Date:  Aug 16, 2015

 END NOTES:

[1] https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2015/08/07/as-krishna-bhima-basin-farmers-in-maharashtra-karnataka-ap-telangana-face-drought-crop-failure-water-scarcity-maharashtra-diverted-350-mcm-water-from-the-basin-literally-to-sea/

[2] http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-drought-last-month-alone-maha-govt-drained-350-mcm-water-into-sea-2112402

[3] http://epaper.dnaindia.com/story.aspx?id=81692&boxid=30031&ed_date=2015-08-16&ed_code=820009&ed_page=3

[4] Incidentally a large number of Chemical MIDCs and chemical industry clusters have been set up in this region, relying on Tata Power Dam releases for their water supply. These industries routinely pollute rivers like Patalganga and Kundalika.

6 Comments on “Tata Power responds on the issue of Tata dams diverting water from Drought hit Bhima Krishna basin to Konkan, but it is a vacuous, insensitive response

  1. Good coverage. Needs to be more publicized in media. Isn’t the state ministry responsible for Water use responsible to manage and control of release of water from dams? Or are they simply mute observers of the plunder or non-judicious use of water resources? I think this is more of a regulatory issue. It is necessary to create a regulator similar to the Regional power despatch centre which manages flow of power in national grids. Water is very similar and interconnected utility to power.

    Like

  2. Central government shall compensate the loss of electricity to the Maharashtra Govt. (including Koyna project west ward diversion) from the unallocated pool of NTPC power stations and the revenue of Tata hydro plants by Maharashtra govt. for not using the water for westward diversion of Krishna river water. This water (112 TMCft in a year) would be sufficient to meet the 100% drinking water needs of all people (10 crore) in the Krishna river basin if the regenerated/recycled water from this primary water (112 TMCft) is also considered..
    If power generation is so precious to the Central Govt from the little water available in the river basin, it should supply the drought effected villages and cities with adequate treated drinking water by road tankers at their door steps free of charges.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Why not move the Maharashtra courts and stop production of power by TATAs in the 3 power station and divert the water to Marathwada , Telengana etc.In this year of extremely poor rains in Marathwada and in the western Ghat catchments of Godavari and Krishna this is the only way out Or force TATAS to stop power generation somehow ( non violent means)

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  4. Vibhu Kapoor
    October 10, 2015.

    Water that is used to generate power is portable water and can be used thereafter. The main aim should be to see that all of it is used and not just wasted away to the ocean.

    Several factories and individuals have water rights from the irrigation department in the down stream areas. On record there is no surplus water available yet the utilized water is wasted; as these factories are now closed and the farms are no longer being cultivated.

    Please re-look as to how there can be reallocation of water a precious resource.

    Like

    • Would like to hear your views on the Godavari Basin  Integrated  Water Plan recently  released by Water Resources department , Maharashtra . I could read only  part of it  .It seems a  good one with some  input from experts and others in the field.The South – North flowing Koyna  river and the Koyna  hydro project out puts are not seen touched here

      Like

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