Hyderabad: The Telangana irrigation experts are seeing red over the Central government for ignoring the pleas of the State government to grant national status to the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme (KLIS) in the wake of similar status accorded to the Upper Bhadra project in Karnataka a few days ago.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao earlier wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to accord national status to the Kaleshwaram project. The then Irrigation Minister, T Harish Rao also submitted representations to the then Union Ministers for Water Resources — Uma Bharathi in 2016 and Nitin Gadkari in 2018 in this regard.
TRS MPs raised the issue inside and outside the Parliament repeatedly. While replying to a question in Lok Sabha in 2018, Nitin Gadkari had categorically announced that the Central government had no plans to accord national status to any project in the country in future.
However, the alleged partial attitude of the Central government towards the BJP-ruled States has once again come to the fore after granting national project status to the Upper Bhadra project. On Friday, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa tweeted, saying, “Upper Bhadra project gets national project status and will receive Rs 16,125 crore from Union government. I thank PM @narendramodi ji & Union Minister@gssjodhpur ji for supporting this project which will be a boon to farmers of Davanagere, Chitradurga, Tumakuru & Chikkamagaluru districts.”
Irrigation experts said the Kaleshwaram project is more qualified for the national status than the Upper Bhadra project in all aspects including acreage it will serve. KLIS, one of the largest multi-purpose and multi-stage lift irrigation schemes in the country, will irrigate over 37 lakh acres of new and existing ayacut in 21 districts of the newly-formed Telangana State.
Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao dedicated the project to the nation on June 21, 2019, in the presence of the then Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy. The water has already reached the Kondapochamma reservoir in the Siddipet district.
On the other hand, the Upper Bhadra project envisages lifting of water in the first stage from Tunga to Bhadra and lifting of water in the second stage from Bhadra reservoir and providing it to the tunnel near Ajjampura through gravity canal in Tungabhadra Sub-Basin of Krishna basin from there to irrigate an extent of 5.57 lakh acres by micro-irrigation in drought-prone districts of Chikmagalur, Chitradurga, Tumkur and Davanagere.
Responding to the Centre’s move on the Upper Bhadra project, irrigation experts said the Centre should treat all the States equally without any partiality. “It’s nothing but politically motivated,” they said.
Telangana State Planning Board Vice-Chairman B Vinod Kumar said the Central Water Commission (CWC) has approved the Upper Bhadra project and recommended for national status without taking the concerns of the lower riparian States into consideration.
The Upper Bhadra project was conceived in 2000 and administrative approval was accorded in 2003 for an estimated cost of Rs 2,800 crore. Later, the project estimate has been revised to Rs 21,473 crore in 2020 of which, Rs 16,125 crore will be borne by the Centre. This project falls in the K-8 Sub Basin of Krishna Basin. Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal (KWDT-II) has allocated nine TMC for the Upper Bhadra project at 65 per cent dependability. But Karnataka government is planning to construct the Upper Bhadra project to utilise 29.9 TMC, much more than its allocation.
Moreover, KWDT-II Award has not been notified by the Central government due to the stay order issued by the Supreme Court. While approving the project, CWC did not inform Telangana for its opinion. It is surprising to note that when the matter is still pending in the Supreme Court, the CWC approved the project and recommended it for national status without taking the concerns of the lower riparian States into consideration, he said.
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