The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday directed the state government not to release water from Nagarjuna Sagar to Krishna delta if the water level in the reservoir is below 510 feet.
The order means the government will have to stop release of water from the dam in Telangana to the downstream districts in coastal Andhra at a time when leaders of the two regions were sparring over the issue.
A division bench passed interim orders on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a retired irrigation chief engineer V. Venkat Reddy and 10 others, seeking directions to the government to maintain dead storage level in Nagarjuna Sagar.
The court asked the government to file a counter and adjourned the hearing by two weeks.
The petitioners alleged that the government is releasing water to the Krishna delta though the water level in the project is below the dead storage level of 510 feet. They argued that water release to the delta would severely affect the drinking water supply to Nalgonda and Hyderabad.
The court orders come in after protests by some parties in Telangana over release of water to Krishna delta, comprising Krishna, Guntur and Prakasam districts in coastal Andhra.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and other parties in Telangana were strongly opposing the release of water to Krishna delta without meeting the irrigation and drinking water requirements of the Telangana region.
Nagarjuna Sagar across the Krishna river is located in Nalgonda district and several districts in the Telangana region and the Krishna delta in coastal Andhra depend on it for irrigation and drinking water needs.
The water level is alarmingly low in the reservoir this year due to insufficient rains upstream.
However, the government has been releasing half tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water on daily basis since July 3 to save crops in the delta. It has decided to release 15 tmcft to Prakasam barrage at Vijayawada.
Krishna delta is considered the rice bowl of Andhra Pradesh and officials say paddy crop over 1.3 million acres needs water in June and July.