The mega irrigation and drinking water project is expected to largely resolve Telangana’s water woes
In what promises great relief to a parched state, the Telangana government inaugurated late last month the
Rs 80,000-crore Kaleshwaram mega irrigation and drinking water project, conceived with the ambitious target of irrigating over 1.25 crore acres of land and meeting the agricultural, drinking and industrial needs of 70% of districts in Telangana. Pumping of water through the system is to begin next month, provided the region receives adequate rainfall.
Seeking to revamp the irrigation system in the state, it was only on May 2, 2016 that Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao laid the foundation stone for the project which is estimated to make available nearly 235 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of water. The project has been designed to irrigate over 40 lakh acres of land in its first phase, with 2 TMC of water being drawn every day for 90 days a year.
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To create a storage capacity of 141 TMC in the first phase, three barrages, 19 reservoirs, and 20 lifts have been constructed under the project. Round-the-clock work is presently underway to build 1,531 km of main canals under 12 blocks and 203 km of tunnels, with 4,000 workers being deployed for the purpose.
Vital to this irrigation infrastructure that would lift water from the river Godavari and supply it to 23 districts of Telangana is the Medigadda Barrage. Water from Godavari would be lifted at Medigadda, about 100 m above the sea level, in six stages and supplied to Kondapochamma Sagar, at a height of 618 m from the sea level. Pump houses of a capacity hitherto unseen in India are being constructed to lift 2 TMC of water every day this year—this would be upped to 3 TMC next year.
The first phase of the project would see water being supplied for two crops over an area of 40 lakh acres every year, which translates into an overall area of 80 lakh acres every year. It is estimated that 4,992.47 MW of power would be required to lift 2 TMC water, with the figure going up to 7,152 MW for 3 TMC of water every day.
Says B Srinivas Reddy, director, Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd (MEIL), which has executed the largest chunk of what is billed as the largest lift irrigation project in the world, “on average, we managed 1 lakh CuM of earthwork per day, completing 8.62 lakh CuM of concrete work in just 22 months. The company also laid 39,700 tonnes of underground pipes in 18 months.” Highlighting the uniqueness of the pump houses being constructed at Medigadda, he says, “twin tunnels have been constructed parallel to each other, excavating earth over a diameter of 10.5 m and length of 4,133 m. The surge pool and additional surge pools of this pump house are the biggest in the world. This is also the first time such constructions have been made underground.”
Work at Medigadda was executed on a fast-track basis and the 1.6-km-long barrage across the Godavari is equipped with 85 gates, piers and associated guide bunds and flood bunds of 18.03 km on either side. “The terrain and conditions were extremely challenging but we were able to deliver as per our client’s requirements,” said SV Desai, executive vice president & head—Heavy Civil Infrastructure, L&T Construction – which built the barrage – at its inauguration. “Considering the speed of execution, we set quite a few world records in the process: 16,722 cm of concrete poured in a day, 25,584 cm in 72 hours and 1,94,081 cm in a month are all achievements without parallel in the Indian construction industry. We also yoked the enormous benefits of digitalisation for the successful execution of this project,” he added.