“Prestigious Kaleshwaram multi-purpose lift irrigation project was inaugurated by Telangana CM K. Chandra Sekhar Rao and AP CM YS Jaganmohan Reddy on June 21, 2019. Kaleshwaram irrigation project is the world’s largest multi-stage multi-purpose lift irrigation scheme that is connected to benefit the state”. 

What is the reason for the initiation of the Kaleshwaram Project?

Apart from groundwater recharge, the grand irrigation scheme will enhance the socio-economic profile of Telangana. After the formation of Telangana, the State government established its priorities right, discussing issues related to farmers in the area who became more and weaker over the decades due to neglect in the combined state. 

The problems of Telangana farmers are unique and could be petitioned by a viewpoint that is developed from within and not controlled by the command region’s experiences.

The Kaleshwaram project is a complex system of barrages, tunnels, pump-houses, and canals, to move water over some very challenging terrain to irrigate 18.25-lakh acres. The additional advantage built into the project is water availability for 25 % of the 18.82-lakh acres of ayacut under current irrigation systems of SRSP, Singur, Nizamsagar, and SRSP Flood Flow canal.

Under Kaleshwaram Project, lifting of water from Godavari River would rise from Medigadda lift point. Medigadda pump house is the world’s biggest pump house found in Kannepalli village near Kaleshwaram.

What’s the Kaleshwaram project?

Kaleshawarm project is unique because Telangana will harness water at the junction of two rivers with the Godavari by building a barrage at Medigadda in Jayshankar Bhoopalpally district and reverse pump the water into the main Godavari river and redirect it through lifts and pumps into a huge and complex system of reservoirs, pipelines, water tunnels, and canals.

The project has set many records with the world’s longest water tunnels, underground surge pools, aqua ducts, and biggest pumps. By the time the water enters Kondapochamma Sagar, the last reservoir in the system about 227 km away in Gajwel district, the Godavari water would have been uplifted to a height of 618 metres from its source at Medigadda.

About 141 to 180 TMC would be provided during the 90 flood days of Godavari from August to October. The total length of the Kaleshwaram project is nearly 1,832 km, of which 1,531 km is gravity canals and 203 km comprises water tunnels. There are 20 water lifts and 19 pump houses in the project.

“The massive project is split into seven links and 28 packages and involved digging of 20 reservoirs in 13 districts with a total capacity to store 145 TMC”.

Interconnections and pumps to connect the Kaleshwaram project:

The reservoirs are interconnected by a network of tunnels running about 330 km, the longest underground tunnel is 21 km long combining the Yellampalli reservoir with the Medaram reservoir. While the complex canal network covers around 1,832 km, the farthest point is Narketpally in Nalgonda district which is 500 km far away from the source.

The project had to be constructed at such a size and scale for the reason that the Godavari flows at 100 metres below Mean Sea Level, Telangana is located at 300 to 650 metres above MSL. There are no options except pumping water using gigantic pumps with mindboggling capacities.

The project is intended to irrigate 7,38,851 hectares (over 18.47 lakh acres) uplands in the erstwhile districts of Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Medak, Warangal, Nalgonda, and Ranga Reddy.

The project is all set to create a world record when seven gigantic pumps with a capacity of 139 MW each in a pumping station built 330 metres below the surface will start lifting 2 TMC of water per day received from Medigadda Barrage on Godavari through a 14.09 km long underground tunnel, the longest irrigation tunnel, in the world.

The pumps would be working at a cavern and surge pool which also carries a record for being the biggest in the world with a capacity to hold 2 crore litres of water.

Giant surge pool for lifting Kaleshwaram waters:

constructing Surge pool in Kaleshwaram

As part of the KLIP, the “Asia’s biggest open-to-sky Surge pool” was constructed in Thippapur village of Illanthakunta Mandal.

Measuring 92 m deep and 56 m diameter, the surge pool was constructed to store one tmc ft of water and lift the same through motors to the Ananthagiri Reservoir in Siddipet and later to the Mallannasagar project. The water from the Mid Manair Dam reservoir would reach the surge pool travelling 3.4 km through a canal and 7.6 km through a tunnel.

What’s the uniqueness of the Kaleshwaram project?

According to engineers, Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP) has many novel features, including the longest tunnel to carry water in Asia, running up to 81 km, between the Yellampally barrage and the Mallannasagar reservoir. 

Salient Features of the Kaleshwaram Project:

  • Project Length of water supply route -1, 832 Kms 

  • Gravity Canal -1531Kms 

  • Tunnel routes – 203 Kms 

  • Pressure Mains/Delivery Mains – 98 Kms 

  • Lifts -20 

  • Pump Houses -19 

  • Electricity required – 4992.47 MWs 

  • Reservoirs – 19 

  • Storing capacity of the reservoirs – 141 TMCs

What is irrigation and types of irrigation?

Irrigation is the artificial way of providing water to the soil through various systems of tubes, pumps, and sprays. Irrigation is normally used in areas where rainfall is uncertain or dry times of drought are expected. There are many types of irrigation systems, in which water is provided to the entire field uniformly. The types are,

A topview of Kaleshwaram

  • Surface:

    a Surface watering system consists of different types of watering system in which water is distributed over the field by gravity stream going in the burrow pit.

  • Sprinkler:

    Sprinkler watering system is a method for the watering system in which water is sprayed over the field using a mechanised object

  • Drip irrigation:

    Commonly used where water wastage is to be reduced, in this watering system a framework is attached through emitters to the field surface as drops or little stream. So evaporation loss is reduced. Israel is a pioneer in this system.

  • Subsurface:

    The subsurface watering system constitutes of procedures whereby watering system water is given to plants by a proper arrangement below the field surface. Water is directly applied to the root position of the plant. Hence evaporation loss is least.

Lift irrigation system used in Kaleshwaram project:

Various canal opening in Kaleshwaram dam

Lift irrigation is a process of irrigation in which water rather than being transported by natural flow (as in gravity-fed canal systems) needs external energy through the animal, fuel-based or electric power using pumps or other mechanical means. Treadle pumps although an ancient way of lifting water for small caps have recently been modernized and practised in a big way.

The benefit of lift irrigation is the minimal land acquisition problem and low water losses. The lift irrigation system is instrumental in supporting agriculture production especially in the years of droughts and increases food production as water is accessible whenever it is required and thereby increase in income level.

What are the upcoming reservoir and big water dam projects in India?

Proposed big dams of India include the world’s tallest concrete gravity dam known as Dibang Dam in Arunachal Pradesh, Second Siruvani Dam, dam across the Cauvery river at Mekedatu, Bursar Hydroelectric Project in Kishtwar and Mahanadi Godavari Link with Manibhadra Dam on river Mahanadi in Odisha. The upcoming water dam projects are:

  • Dibang Dam

  • Kalpasar Project

  • Icchampally Project

  • Tipaimukh Dam

  • Tlawng Dam

  • Kishau Dam

  • Pakal Dul Dam

  • Mekedatu Dam

  • Manibhadra Dam