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Water Rights, Conflicts and Collective Action: Case of Telugu Ganga Project, India

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Nikku, Bala Raju
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/1094
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Urban Commons
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): IASC
water resources
canals
collective action--case studies
conflict--case studies
cities and towns
river basins--case studies
Abstract: "The Telugu Ganga Canal, which takes off from the Srisailam Dam, is probably the most conflict ridden river diversion project in contemporary India. The population of Chennai city has grown ten times in the span of hundred thirty years. The city has been facing severe water stress with growing urban population and failure of North East monsoons. There were occasions in the past that drinking water was transported by rail from the city of Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh located at a distance of 432 Kms from Chennai. The problem further aggravated when Andhra Pradesh state separated from earnest while Madras Presidency in the year 1953. One of the viable options found out to meet the drinking water needs of the city is to transfer water from Krishna basin but unfortunately no part of Tamil Nadu state lies in the basin. Soon after the bifurcation of states, the Government of Tamil Nadu has raised the prospect of diverting waters from the river Krishna. The efforts of the Tamil Nadu state mediating with Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, the riparian states of Krishna River yielded some result in the year 1976. In the following year an open channel was dug to carry a discharge not exceeding 1500 cusecs from Srisailam reservoir to Pennar river basin to supply water to city of Chennai. The execution of the project has got a new dimension when Telugudesam, a new regional party came in to power in January 1983 in Andhra Pradesh. The Chief Minister of the new government had insisted on combining irrigation for the dry regions of Rayalaseema region in Andhra Pradesh. The political choices have lead to the serious delay of the project. The actual reaching of river water at the boarders of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu was on 29th September 1996. Even after the long waiting, the commitment to supply 15 TMC of water could not be materialised even in the year 2004. There have been farmers resistance all along the upstream of the canal against the supply of canal water to Chennai city. No single approach can solve the issue of conflicting interests. The paper suggests a model of multi stakeholder institution recognising different users and their needs and frame governance rules and implements them through collective action."

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