Vitalising State with Kaleshwaram

The project is key to reaching the irrigation target of one crore acres and will stimulate Telangana’s economy

By Author Sridhar Rao Deshpande   |   Published: 4th May 2018   12:18 am Updated: 3rd May 2018   10:30 pm

After the formation of Telangana in June 2014, the government felt the need to reengineer some irrigation projects. This was aimed at providing irrigation facilities to one crore acres, which is a flagship programme of the TRS government. It focuses on ensuring one lakh acres of irrigation in each rural constituency, for this is the only way to mitigate droughts and make the rural economy vibrant again.

The BR Ambedkar Pranahita Chevella Suajala Sravanti was one such project, proposed to reengineer for utilising the maximum share in Godavari waters. Earlier, the project planned to divert 160 tmc of water to irrigate 16.40 lakh acres in seven districts of Telangana by constructing a barrage with FRL +152 m across river Pranahita near the confluence of Wain Ganga and river Wardha at Tummidihetti in Adilabad district. Besides irrigation, drinking water (30 tmc for twin cities and 10 tmc for villages en route) and water for industrial use (16 tmc) was also proposed. The then AP government accorded approval for the project with Rs 38,500 crore in 2007.

Maharashtra raised objections on submergence of its territory and requested to reduce the FRL to +148 m. To achieve the contemplated benefits, an alternative location of the barrage was proposed at Medigadda.

Kaleshwaram project

Conceiving Kaleshwaram
After reengineering, the project was divided into two parts – (1) Dr BR Ambedkar Pranahita Project to divert 20 tmc by constructing a barrage across river Pranahita near the confluence of Wain Ganga and Wardha at Tummidihetti for irrigating 2 lakh acres in East Adilabad district against the original proposed ayacut of 56,500 acres and (2) Kaleshwaram Project, which envisages diversion of 180 tmc of water by constructing a barrage at Medigadda near Kaleshwaram and two more barrages between Medigadda and Yellampally project at Annaram and Sundilla villages. (see infographics)

The water for the project is to be drawn from river Godavari near Medigadda and will be transferred to the Yellampally Balancing Reservoir. The cost approved for these barrages, pump houses and associated water conveyance system (Link 1) is Rs 13,813 crore.

The conveyance system of the Kaleshwaram project is divided into seven links and works are being carried out accordingly. Downstream of Medigadda barrage, the government proposed another barrage at Tupakulagudem village on the Godavari after the confluence of Indravati.

This barrage intends to create pondage to Devadula lift irrigation scheme. Earlier, there was no pondage and pumping is possible only when the Godavari flows at +71 m or above. The project was aimed at lifting water for 170 days but hardly 100–110 pumping days are available in the Godavari thus making it unable to serve its purpose.

Five Barrages
Now, there will be a series of five barrages from Yellampalli to Tupakulagudem that will rejuvenate the Godavari for a length of 170 km and 61 tmc of water will be stored in the river throughout the year. Sadarmatt barrage is under construction — 52 km of Sriram Sagar Dam — and its backwaters extend to a length of 17 km. Two more barrages are required for water storage in the Godavari up to the toe of SRSP dam. The SRSP backwater extends to a length of 90 km.

Downstream of Sadarmatt barrage up to foreshore of Yellampalli, there is a gap of 140 km. In this reach, the Godavari bed fall is very steep and to keep the submergence within the river banks, 10 barrages need to be constructed for continuous water storage. A similar gap is downstream to the Tupakulagudem barrage to existing Dummugudem anicut in Khammam district.

Inland Navigation
From Kandakurti in Nizamabad district up to Dummugudem anicut in Khammam district, the length of Godavari is about 500 km. Of this, the Godavari will be rejuvenated in a length of 275 km with the completion of the proposed barrages — Sadarmatt, Sundilla, Annaram, Medigadda, Tupakulagudem — and along with the existing dams, i.e., SRSP and Yellampalli having a storage capacity of 154 tmc within the river banks.

The Centre has identified Godavari as one of the potential rivers for developing inland navigation from SRSP to the Bay of Bengal. With the rejuvenation of the Godavari, there is a big scope for development of inland navigation from Yellampalli to Tupakulagudem (170 km). On completion of the five barrages, 61 tmc storage is possible in this reach, which will develop fishing activity and help establish fish food processing industries.

Fillip to Temple, Eco-Tourism
The Kaleshwaram temple town on the banks of Godavari is believed to be the Triveni Sangamam of the Godavari, Pranahita and Saraswati, a river that joins here underground (antarvahini). Thousands of pilgrims visit the Kaleshwara Mukteshwara temple every year to pay tributes to their departed family members and have a darshan of Shiva Linga.
Vemulawada Raja Rajeshwara temple, known as Dakshina Kashi, is closer to Yellampalli barrage in Karimnagar district. Therefore, there is a huge scope for development of temple tourism. Eco-tourism too will flourish with the rejuvenation of Godavari.

Cost-Benefit Analysis
The Benefit-Cost Ratio (BCR) of a project is an indicator used in the cost-benefit analysis that attempts to summarise the overall value for money of a project. The higher the BC ratio, the better the investment. It is estimated that the annual benefits from the project would be Rs 21,521.25 crore while the cost would be Rs 13,923.11 crore. Thus the BCR works out to 1:1.55.
Once the project is completed and starts giving benefits, big metamorphosis changes will take place in the socio-economic conditions of people in Telangana. It is envisaged that the Kaleshwaram project — that can lift 2 tmc per day to a static head of 520 m — will become a growth engine of Telangana just like the Three Gorges Dam for China.

— Concluded
(The author is Officer on Special Duty to Irrigation Minister)