Hyderabad: The Telangana government is all set to inaugurate its prestigious Rs.80,000-crore Kaleshwaram mega irrigation (and drinking water) project on 21 June.
Chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao will inaugurate the project, and invite his Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Maharashtra counterparts, Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and Devendra Fadnavis respectively, to attend the event.
Designed to bring drinking water and irrigation to the parched areas of the state, a total of about 225 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of water will be drawn through it, including 180 TMC from the Godavari river basin and the rest through other projects. The project, which will involve building reservoirs at various places, is expected to irrigate 18.24 lakh acres of land in the state, provide 56 TMC of drinking water and another 10 TMC for industrial purposes.
Originally called Pranahita-Chevella project, which was undertaken by the Congress-ruled erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, it was redesigned, extended and rechristened Kaleshwaram project after Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) came to power in Telangana in 2014.
The cost of the works too went up from a little over Rs. 40,300 crore to Rs. 80,000 crore after the redesigning.
Earlier, water was to be drawn from the Godavari river by constructing a barrage at Tummidihatti village in Adilabad district at a cost of Rs. 40,300 crore (under the original plan) to irrigate 16.14 lakh acres. Now, the same is to be done at Medigadda village in Jayshankar-Bhoopalpally district.
While activists have questioned the increase in cost, an official from the state irrigation department, who did not want to be named, said that constructing a barrage at Tummedihatti was not feasible as the water that could be drawn from there was much less.
He also said the Maharashtra government did not agree to that as a large area in the state would get submerged due to the project. At Medigadda, it is minimal, he pointed out.
Among all the reservoirs being constructed under the project, the biggest is the 50-TMC Komuravelli Mallanna Sagar reservoir, which in fact had become a bone of contention with farmers from Vemulaghat village in Siddipet district refusing to give up their lands for the project.
Various cases with the High Court and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had put a brake on the project.
Farmers from Vemulaghat, which will be submerged (along with others) for the project, had insisted that the state government follow the 2013 Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (LARR) and refused to take compensation under G.O. (government order) 123, which was passed in 2015 to acquire land from whoever was willing to give it up for public works.
G.O. 123 was, however, struck down by the High Court in August 2016, based on a petition against it by farmers. The issue was finally settled and people started giving up their lands.
A release from Rao’s office on Wednesday said that he spoke with Fadnavis over the phone to invite the latter for the project’s inauguration, and that the chief minister will visit Mumbai shortly to personally invite his Maharashtra counterpart.