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Channeling hope
KCR’s pet project plans to allay Telangana’s water shortage fears

The world’s largest multi-stage, multipurpose irrigation project — Kaleshwaram Multipurpose Lift Irrigation Project in Telangana, has seen the light of the day. Chief minister of India's newest state, K Chandrashekhar Rao inaugurated the project and invited Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis and Andhra Pradesh CM Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy for the opening event, as a sign of support for amicable sharing of water from rivers Krishna and Godavari. Crucial for TRS’ quest for "Bangaru Telangana" (golden Telangana), work for the project began in 2016 and is scheduled to be completed at a cost of close to 900 billion. The engineering marvel comes at a time when NITI Aayog’s report indicates that close to 600 million people in the country are facing water shortage. It is designed to meet the drinking water requirement of 70 percent of the state, irrigate 4.5 million acres for two crops a year, and also cater to industries. 20 water lifts and 19 pump houses in the project were necessary as the Godavari flows at 100 metres below mean sea level (MSL), while Telangana is located at 300-650 metres above MSL. The Kaleshwaram project approximately stretches a massive 1,832 kms, of which 1,531 kms is gravity canals and 203 kms comprise water tunnels. The project has set many records with the world’s biggest pumps and longest water tunnels, beating the Great Man-Made River in Libya and the Colorado river in the USA. Two thousand million cubic (TMC) feet of water per day from the Medigadda barrage, the starting point of the project would be lifted to more than half-a-kilometre above ground level while being transported. However, the project comes with its share of concerns. Exaggerated costs of benefits to farmers, underestimation of water required for meaningful irrigation and displacement of close to 30,000 people are some of the points raised by critics.

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