Hyderabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated Mission Bhagiratha, the Telangana government’s ambitious initiative to provide piped water supply to every household in the country’s youngest state.

A drinking water project of this scale has never been attempted before in this country.

Costing an estimated 35,000 crore, the project envisages laying 1.26 lakh km of pipeline network that will reach 25,000 rural and 67 urban households across Telangana. The government sanctioned 4,000 crore during fiscal year 2015-16 to implement the project.

According to the government’s mission statement, the project will ensure supply of 100 litres of drinking water for each person staying in rural areas and 150 litres per person in urban households.

But that is contingent upon Godavari and Krishna rivers supplying water to the project. As part of the project, while Godavari river will supply 34 tmcft, Krishna river will feed 21.5 tmcft to the water grid.

The project, which was initially called the Telangana Drinking Water Supply Project, was renamed by chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, a deeply religious man, after Bhagiratha, a mythical king who is credited with bringing River Ganga from the heavens to the earth, in December 2015.

Rao has vowed not to seek votes in the next election if the project isn’t completed by 2019.

The chief minister’s interest in the water grid project is not without some history. In 1996-97, when Rao was still a legislator of the Telugu Desam Party or TDP (he floated Telangana Rashtra Samiti in 2001), he implemented a similar project, albeit on a smaller scale.

At a cost of 60 crore, the Siddipet drinking water project supplied water to households in 180 villages, a part of Rao’s Siddipet constituency. It involved collecting water from Lower Manair Dam and supplying to households. The project is still operational.

The new Telangana Water Grid will depend on water resources from Srisailam, Sriram Sagar Project, Komuram Bheem Project, Paleru Reservoir, Jurala Dam and Nizam Sagar Project, the major hydro projects in the state.

The state-level grid will have 26 internal grids. The main trunk pipelines, running a length of about 5,000km, will supply water to secondary pipelines, stretching over 50,000km. The secondary pipelines will carry water to tanks in habitations from where a village-level pipeline network extending 75,000km will supply water to households in the state.

The state government is engaging Mumbai-based firm Genesys International Corp. Ltd to map the water grid project using geographical information systems and LIDAR technology. LIDAR is a surveying technology, on the lines of a radar, to build high-resolution maps using laser beams. Genesys had earlier deployed its technology to map parts of Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh, and Lavasa City near Pune.

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