Rivers are considered lifelines of human civilisation, revered and worshipped across cultures. However, the rapid growth in population, urbanisation and industrialisation have led to the drying of many rivers during lean seasons. Several perennial rivers are turning into seasonal ones with fragmented and intermittent flows. While this has been a disturbing trend in most parts of India, especially for plain-fed rivers, Telangana has done exactly the reverse, something remarkable for an upland region that was, not too long ago, dubbed as arid, dry and perennially drought-prone. Thanks to the innovative and out-of-the-box thinking in designing irrigation projects, the State is now witnessing a water revolution and setting a new trend where tributaries and seasonal rivers are turning into perennial ones. The tributaries of the Godavari that were once dry are now brimming with copious flows. All this has been made possible because of one single project — Kaleshwaram, the most ambitious engineering feat that is changing the face of Telangana. Through a series of Link Systems and dams, the project has been designed to pump water back up into existing tributaries of the Godavari to stabilise upstream reservoirs with water from downstream. Essentially, this translates to taking lots of water, lifting it all the way back into the upstream tributaries so that they now have increased flow, thus irrigating the upstream districts as well. This is equivalent to reversing the flow of a portion of the river using a giant pump. No wonder the Kaleshwaram project represents the most ambitious engineering feat ever undertaken.
The release of 1,600 causes of Godavari water into Haldi Vagu by Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao marks an important milestone in the government’s efforts to bring an irrigation revolution in the State. As many 32 check dams have been constructed across Haldi Vagu which eventually merges with Manjira river, a tributary of Godavari, near Medak. As a result of this unique effort, water will keep Haldi Vagu and Manjira flowing even during mid-summer. Since the Nizam Sagar project is located downstream, the water will eventually reach there and provide irrigation to the lands en route. Earlier, the release of Godavari water into the Kondapochamma reservoir near Hyderabad also demonstrated the strength and uniqueness of the Kaleshwaram project for pumping millions of cubic metres of water to a height of 500 metres and a distance of 110 km. These achievements will usher in an era of water security for Telangana, just as the Green Revolution of the late 1960s ensured food security and the White Revolution of the 1970s created a milk surplus economy in India. Kaleshwaram is a fine example of how innovation holds key to the success of any project in an increasingly technology-driven world.
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