Ex­perts fear KCR’s grand Kalesh­waram lift ir­ri­ga­tion scheme may be a white ele­phant

India Today - - STATES - By Amar­nath K. Menon

The rul­ing Te­lan­gana Rash­tra Samithi’s (TRS) show­piece, the mas­sive Kalesh­waram Lift Ir­ri­ga­tion Scheme (KLIS), when com­pleted, will ir­ri­gate 70 per cent of Te­lan­gana, cover­ing 80 of the 119 assembly con­stituen­cies. Launched in 2016, the first phase, in­clud­ing three ma­jor bar­rages, is al­most ready.

Al­though there is no wa­ter in the Go­davari now, TRS boss and chief min­is­ter K. Chan­drashekar Rao (KCR) was, at the time of go­ing to press, all set for the in­au­gu­ra­tion on June 21 as there are no aus­pi­cious days in July. With no op­tion to tap the Go­davari but to lift wa­ter, KCR’s am­bi­tious de­sign is to stag­ger­lift the flood wa­ter at seven dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions be­gin­ning with the pump­ing up of 2,000 mil­lion cu­bic (TMC) feet daily. In this way, dur­ing the 180 days of flood, the state hopes to lift 540 TMC a year to ir­ri­gate two crops spread over 4.5 mil­lion acres. It in­volves build­ing 1,832 km of sup­ply routes and 19 pump

houses among other in­fra­struc­ture. But the project is run­ning behind sched­ule, and the bal­loon­ing cost is now es­ti­mated to be about Rs 1 lakh crore.

Te­lan­gana is tout­ing KLIS as the largest lift ir­ri­ga­tion project in the coun­try and the life­line of the state. Scoff­ing at “the ig­no­rance” of the project’s crit­ics, KCR says once KLIS is com­pleted, the value of har­vests in just a cou­ple of years will equal the en­tire ex­pense on it. That said, it will take at least five more years to be fully op­er­a­tional. KCR’s rush to in­au­gu­rate the first phase is to ride the floods in July­Au­gust and get wa­ter to the mi­nor ir­ri­ga­tion tanks in the Karim­na­garWaran­gal re­gion. This is also to es­tab­lish his ‘big is beau­ti­ful’ idea of lift ir­ri­ga­tion, brush­ing aside con­cerns over costs.

Though therein lie the ma­jor chal­lenges. For the first phase, about 4,992 MW of power would be re­quired to lift just two TMC of wa­ter a day for one year. When com­pleted, KLIS wa­ter will be

DAMMED KCR at the Medi­gadda project works, June 4

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