Veligonda Project: Works at sluggish pace
Since decades, the inhabitants of the Prakasam, Nellore and Kadapa districts have been facing acute shortage of drinking water. Lack of irrigation water has been haunting farmers since ages here. All such crises can be solved with the execution of Veligonda project, the sole repository which can alone meet the needs of nearly 4.47 lakh acres of land and 15.25 lakh people.
Ongole: Since decades, the inhabitants of the Prakasam, Nellore and Kadapa districts have been facing acute shortage of drinking water. Lack of irrigation water has been haunting farmers since ages here. All such crises can be solved with the execution of Veligonda project, the sole repository which can alone meet the needs of nearly 4.47 lakh acres of land and 15.25 lakh people.
The Veligonda project was planned by the late Chief Minister Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao after he witnessed the plight of people from the western area of Prakasam and neighbouring areas of Nellore and Kadapa districts. The primary report of the Veligonda project, submitted to the Andhra Pradesh government in March 1989 expected the project to provide a complete solution for all such problems of the local people.
- Project conceived by former CM N T Rama Rao
- The first report on the project was submitted in 1989
- Chandrababu Naidu laid foundation stone for the project in 1996
- Estimated cost of the project increases from Rs 1,550 cr to 5,150 cr
- It is expected to provide irrigation facilities to 4.47 lakh acres in Prakasam, Nellore and Kadapa districts
It is expected to draw 43.58 TMC of flood water from the Krishna river through Srisailam reservoir when the water level reaches to 256.032 metres. The Veligonda dam fills three natural gaps between Nallamala hills at Sunkesula, Gottipadiya and Kakarla and provides water to 3.36 lakh acres of land in 23 mandals of Prakasam, 84,000 acres of land in 5 mandals of Nellore and 27,200 acres of land in 2 mandals of Kadapa district after completion.
Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu laid the foundation for the project 20 years ago on March 5, 1996 and promised to complete the project in five years. The contractors of the project received multiple extensions of time for various reasons from the State government. Now the government wants the first phase of the project to be completed by September 2016 and the entire project by 2017.
The project is estimated to be completed with an expenditure of Rs 1,550 crore at the time of foundation. But delayed implementation and sanctioning of funds raised the budget to Rs 5,150 crore now. Already a sum of Rs 3,550 crore has been spent on the project and another Rs 1,600 crore is to be released by the government to complete it.
Boasted as an engineering marvel by the Irrigation Department, the project is being constructed by digging two tunnels with bore machines through the Srisailam-Nagarjuna Sagar Tiger reserve forest at a depth of 500 metres on average from the top of the hills for a distance of 18.82 km up to Dornala. The drilling of the two tunnels is expected to cost around Rs 1,362 crore and the drilling is being done at an average pace of just 7 metres per day.
By: Naresh Nandam