OPEN THE FLOOD GATES
Experts fear KCR’s grand Kaleshwaram lift irrigation scheme may be a white elephant
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