Situated 277 km from Hyderabad, the Kaleshwaram Lift irrigation scheme was started by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to provide irrigation facilities to farmers.
At the juncture of river Godavari and its tributary Pranahita, Telangana’s Kaleshwaram village is set to inaugurate the world’s biggest irrigation project - the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government’s flagship Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme this Dussehra. As the second state after Maharashtra with the maximum number of farmer suicides due to poor monsoon rains and lack of irrigation facilities, this project is aimed at ending its water woes.
At Rs 80,000 crore, this is the costliest irrigation project undertaken by any state in the country so far.
The government aims to complete the 120km-long stretch, including building tunnels, canals, and pumps, between Medigadda (the main barrage at the source on the Godavari) and the Mid-Manair reservoir by mid-October.
Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao commented,
“When that is done, 50 per cent of the Kaleshwaram project would be completed…that too, in less than five years. Water will become Telangana’s economic power because farmers will be able to sow two crops."
He added that the freshwater fishing industry, worth thousands of crores, would flourish through this project alongside tourism and water sports.
The government plans to distribute the irrigation and drinking water to almost 20 lakh acres after the Medigadaa is connected to the Mid-Manair reservoir.
A project at scale
Situated 277 km from Hyderabad, the Kaleshwaram Lift irrigation scheme was started by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to boost irrigation.
The Kaleshwaram project intends to irrigate 18 lakh acres in 13 districts and “stabilise” another 17 lakh acres in another seven districts of Telangana. The government will also utilise this project to provide drinking water to towns and cities, including Hyderabad and Secunderabad, while also providing water for industrial use.
To harness water, the government will construct a barrage at Medigadda, in the Jayashankar Bhupalpally district at the confluence of the three rivers across the Godavari. From here, the water will be reverse-pumped into the main Godavari river, and diverted into a huge and complex system of reservoirs, water tunnels, pipelines, and canals.
“The construction of the barrage will have vast implications, both positive and negative. The (negative) effect due to construction phase is, however, temporary in nature and, therefore, has no permanent effect on environment,” a report by Irrigation and CAD department, Government of Telangana, stated.
The project is divided into seven links and 28 packages, with a water capacity of 145 TMC ft, spread across 20 reservoirs in 13 districts. All these reservoirs will be interconnected by a network of tunnels running around 330 km. The longest tunnel will be 21km long and connect Yellampalli and Medaram reservoirs. The canal network under the project will cover 1,832 km, taking water as far as 500 kms from the source.
In order to utilise the diverted water of the Godavari and store it en route, 17 online storage areas have been proposed, which in turn will provide irrigation to a command area of 7,38,851 hectare in the entire project. The project is built at this scale and size because the Godavari flows at 100 metres above mean sea level, while Telangana region is situated at 300 to 650 metres above the mean sea level.
With 139 MW mega-pumps lifting 2 TMC ft of water daily since the first week of August, the project has set a world record. This 2 TMC ft water will be pumped into two barrages – Annaram and Sundilla. From here, the water will go to the Yellampalli reservoir where distribution will take place through gravity canals and pipelines.
For this project, the government will construct the longest irrigation tunnel in the world (14.09 km) at the Medigadda Barrage. The cavern and surge pool, from where the pump would operate, also holds the world record for a capacity of holding 2 crore litres of water.