At 470 feet below earth’s surface, Kaleshwaram pump house is world’s largest
The Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project being constructed on the Godavari river in Telangana has achieved yet another milestone with the commencement of the world’s largest underground pumping station at Laxmipur village in the early hours of Monday.
The pump house, constructed about 470 feet below the earth’s surface, is the most important part of the Kaleshwaram project, considered the most expensive lift irrigation project in the country estimated to cost over Rs 80,000 crore.
According to an official statement, the wet run of the pump began with the switching on of the machine late on Sunday night, lifting 3,000 cusecs of water from the cistern to a height of 111 metres and pumping it into the canal that takes the water to the Mid-Manair reservoir through gravity.
“It was a trial run which was successful. The massive Laxmipur pump house will be formally inaugurated by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Wednesday,” project director B Srinivas Reddy said.
He said the pumping station would enable live storage of water in reservoirs throughout the year in the Godavari river. It has twin tunnels, large surge pools and seven motors, each having a capacity of 139 megawatts. These motors can lift three tmc ft (thousand million cubic feet) of water per day. “Each motor pump weighs around 2,376 metric tonnes and are called giant motors or Bahubali motors,” he said.
According to the original plan, the Kaleshwaram project will utilize nearly two tmc ft of Godavari river water, including 134 tmc to irrigate 18.25 lakh acres, another 34.5 tmc ft for stabilisation of already irrigated area of six lakh acres, 10 tmc towards drinking water and 16 tmc for industrial purposes.
According to the revised Detailed Project Report, the government proposes to lift another tmc ft of water from the Godavari to bring more land under cultivation. Last week, the government issued orders according to administrative sanction to the irrigation department for the construction of additional reservoirs and canal systems as part of the project expansion.
Though the order did not mention the additional project cost, an official familiar with the development said it would cost another Rs 4,000 crore for the expanded project work. “The work is being entrusted to the same contractor on nomination basis to avoid further delay and cost escalation,” the official said.
The state government has not got any funding from the Centre despite repeated representations from the chief minister. “We are depending on our own resources, including budgetary allocations and borrowing from financial institutions like commercial banks, power finance corporation, the NABARD etc,” Sridhar Deshpande, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the chief minister, looking after irrigation, said.
This year, the state government had earmarked Rs 22,500 crore for the irrigation sector. It had already borrowed nearly Rs 40,000 crore, including Rs 20,550 crore from various commercial banks, besides another Rs 20,900 crore from the Power Finance Corporation (PFC).
“We are borrowing another Rs 4,000 crore from PFC for the Palamuru-Ranga Reddy lift irrigation scheme, besides Rs 1500 from NABARD for Kaleshwaram. We are looking for further funding sources to complete the Kaleshwaram project by next June,” Deshpande added.