Recently, in an election rally, caretaker chief minister and TDP leader KCR claimed that the intended project of the Palamuru-Ranga Reddy Lift Irrigation System (LIS) has been completed by around 90 percent. The project intended to supply irrigated water to around 12 lakh acres of land in the erstwhile combined district of Mahabubnagar. The government has spent nearly Rs 3,200 crores on the project so far.
In the election rally KCR also claimed that nearly 8.5 lakh acres of land is being irrigated today, which is far from what is happening on the ground. Currently, a mere 3 lakh acres of land is being irrigated under the project. Out of this irrigated land, water is being supplied from the existing Koil Sagar, which was inaugurated in 1948 to at least 2,300 acres of land.
The idea is to increase the irrigated land to 50,000 acres, and therefore water was diverted from the Jurala dam to Koil Sagar, but lack of proper irrigation channels has made it difficult to supply the water to the intended lands.
A proposal is in place to lift water from the foreshore of Priyadarshini Jurala Project (PJP) in two stages. The proposed utilisation under this scheme is 2.06 TMC.
In the first stage, water will be lifted from the foreshore of PJP (Chintareddy Palli) and dropped into Pardipur tank. In the second stage, the water stored in Pardipur tank will be lifted and dropped in Koil Sagar Reservoir.
Is the project serving the agricultural needs?
One of the biggest loopholes of the project has been that the existing reservoir channels don’t cover agricultural lands that it intends to irrigate.
Under the Palamuru-Ranga Reddy LIS too, the KCR government is yet to complete construction of reservoir channels to take water to the targeted croplands, because of which water from this project is getting sidetracked and ending up getting wasted.
Although this water is being used to fill 300 different lakes, creating an area of 20,000 acres of new ayacut, KCR is claiming that the water from the project has created 3.5 lakh acres of new ayacut even without creation of new irrigation channels.
Moreover, the Ministry of Forest and Environment gave clearance for stage I of the Palamuru-Ranga Reddy LIS covering 500 acres of forest land in April 2018. How then has the projected achieved 90 percent completion?
How will the project affect Hyderabad?
The KCR government has claimed that the Palamuru-Ranga Reddy LIS water is meant for fields, but on numerous occasions and in the high court as well, it has said that Palamuru-Ranga Reddy LIS waters would also be used for filling up the Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar. Whereas, the official PRLIS report submitted to the Ministry of Environment, does not contain any mention of the Osman Sagar or the Himayat Sagar.
In the past three decades, supply of water to the Himayat Sagar and Osman Sagar lakes has been dwindling because of the low rainfall, and the existing channels are not opened to utilise water from these lakes. Hyderabad already feels the threat of water scarcity because of its exclusive dependence on water from Godavari and Krishna rivers.
Won't the government's plan to link the Palamuru-Ranga Reddy LIS project to the lakes of Osman and Himayat Sagar further dry up the rivers?
Also, the Telangana government hasn’t given any clarification as to how it plans to connect the project to the lakes which are at least 300 kilometers away.
The larger question that everybody should be asking the KCR government is: why are promises being made to fill lakes in Hyderabad using the Palamuru-Ranga Reddy LIS when it's the Musi river, a tributary of Krishna river, which form the sagars.
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Updated Date: Nov 25, 2018 13:44:40 IST