The world’s largest irrigation and drinking water system—Kaleshwaram Multipurpose Lift Irrigation Project—was inaugurated Friday by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao. Telangana invited Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis and Andhra Pradesh CM Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy for the function.
The project will provide water for drinking and irrigation purpose to about 45 lakh acres in 20 of the 31 districts in Telangana, apart from Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The cost of the project is Rs 80,000 crores but is expected to rise to Rs 1 lakh crore by the time it is completely constructed.
Why Kaleshwaram irrigation project is unique
This project is unique because Telangana will harness water at the confluence of two rivers with Godavari by constructing a barrage at Medigadda in Jayshankar Bhoopalpally district and reverse pump the water into the main Godavari river and divert it through lifts and pumps into a huge and complex system of reservoirs, water tunnels, pipelines and canals.
The project has set many records with the world’s longest water tunnels, aqua ducts, underground surge pools, and biggest pumps. By the time the water reaches Kondapochamma Sagar, the last reservoir in the system about 227 kms away in Gajwel district, the Godavari water would have been lifted to a height of 618 metres from its source at Medigadda.
The total length of Kaleshwaram project is approximately 1,832 kms, of which 1,531 kms is gravity canals and 203 kms comprise water tunnels. There are 20 water lifts and 19 pump houses in the project.
The massive project is divided into seven links and 28 packages and involved digging of 20 reservoirs in 13 districts with a total capacity to store 145 TMC.
The reservoirs are interconnected through a network of tunnels running about 330 kms, the longest underground tunnel is 21 kms long connecting Yellampalli reservoir with Medaram reservoir. While the intricate canal network covers approximately 1,832 kms, the farthest point is Narketpally in Nalgonda district which is 500 kms away from the source.
The project had to be built at such a size and scale because while the Godavari flows at 100 metres below Mean Sea Level, Telangana is located at 300 to 650 metres above MSL. Except for pumping water using gigantic pumps with mindboggling capacities, there is no other option, according to officials.
The project is all set to create a world record in July when seven gigantic pumps with a capacity of 139 MW each in a pumping station built 330 metres below the surface will start lifting 2 TMC of water per day received from Medigadda Barrage on Godavari through a 14.09 kms long underground tunnel, the longest irrigation tunnel, in the world. The pumps would be operating at a cavern and surge pool which also holds a record for being the biggest in the world with a capacity to hold 2 crore litres of water.
Water-sharing agreement between Telangana, Maharashtra
Fadnavis has been invited because the Maharashtra government in March 2016 agreed to Telangana’s proposal for water-sharing arrangement if a dam or barrage was constructed across Godavari in Telangana which had been the cause for acrimony between united AP and Maharashtra for nearly four decades.
On March 8, 2016, the Telangana government had entered into an agreement with the Maharashtra State government, putting an end to the decades-old differences and objections over the issue. This agreement has paved the way for the construction of Kaleshwaram project at Medigadda in Jayshankar Bhupalpalli district.
The state government has decided to start pumping water from the next month. It is estimated that for the lifting of 2 TMC water from Godavari to feed the Kaleshwaram Project, 4992.47 MW power is required. For lifting of the 3 TMC water, 7, 152 MW of power is required and arrangments are being for the supply of adequate power.
For the first time in the country’s history, the Telangana State Electricity organisations are using 139 MW pumps in the Kaleshwaram project at package-8 Ramadugu.
The world’s biggest underground pump house with 20 pumps each of 139 MW capacity has been built by Megha Engineering Infrastructure Limited which has also has constructed all the major pump houses and related infrastructure for power transmission for this mega project.
About 141 to 180 TMC would be harnessed during the 90 flood days of Godavari from August to October. Once the project reaches its full operational capacity, it is expected to make Telangana an economic power because farmers will be able to sow two crops, and thousands of crores worth of fishing industry would flourish in the fresh water in this project alongside tourism and water sports.