Bahubali pumps 330m below ground level
It’s too early to say whether the Rs 80,000-crore, multi-purpose Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme (KLIS) will be a success story, but the irrigation project has several engineering marvels in making, with ‘Bahubali’ pumps and the paraphernalia associated with them at the massive underground pump house complex at Laxmipur village in Karimnagar district topping the list.
Laxmipur (Karimnagar district): It’s too early to say whether the Rs 80,000-crore, multi-purpose Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme (KLIS) will be a success story, but the irrigation project has several engineering marvels in making, with ‘Bahubali’ pumps and the paraphernalia associated with them at the massive underground pump house complex at Laxmipur village in Karimnagar district topping the list.
Being constructed at 330 metres below the ground by Hyderabad-based Megha Engineering & Infrastructures Ltd (MEIL) as part of the Package 8 of the project, the pumping station accommodates seven ‘Bahubali’ pumps that are capable of pumping out three tmc of water every day. Each pump comes with a pumping capacity of 89.14 cubic metres per second (cumecs) and requires a whopping 139 MW power – both feats, according to MEIL, are world records. To put the full capacity of a single pump in prospective, it needs just a couple of days to fill Hussain Sagar Lake in Hyderabad.
However, the uniqueness of this underground superstructure doesn’t end here. The pump house has the highest pumping head of 117 metres. MEIL carved out massive underground caverns to construct the pumphouse and surge pools to lift water coming from two 10-metre wide tunnels.
“Using 139 MW motor for water lifting is definitely a world record. We are using such high-capacity motors because they are required here. In Telangana, Godavari water flows at 100 metre above sea level while most of the cultivable lands are at 600 metres above sea level. Without such massive motors, it is not possible to lift water to 600 metres above sea level for irrigation and other purposes,” said B Srinivas Reddy, Director, MEIL.
However, only five pumps will be in use for initial target of evacuating two tmc daily. Of the five, two pumps underwent trial run till now. “All the five pumps will be up and running within two months. It may take another two months for the remaining two pumps to be ready,” Reddy said. Over 2000 people are working at the site round the clock to meet the deadline.
MEIL is executing 55 per cent of Kaleshwaram project, including four pump houses at Annaram, Medigadda and Sundilla barrages, apart from the one at Laxmipur. “We are handling works worth more than Rs 40,000 crore under this project. So far, we spent Rs 30,000 crore, including Rs 25,000 crore in last three years,” he explained.
The Package 8 under which the pump house and twin tunnels of 4.13 kilometre each are being executed is worth Rs 4,700 crore. The company has spent 88 per cent of this amount till date. The company faced numerous challenges while executing a project of this size below ground. “The first challenge was when we encountered loose soil while digging tunnels and under ground pumphouse. We had to establish support system before advancing further. The other key challenge was taking equipment and machinery underground,” Reddy recalled.
As each pump weighed 400 metric tonnes, the company had no option except taking the components underground and assembling pumps there. “Executing such a large project within a short span of time is a big challenge. But thanks to timely support from the Telangana government, we could be able to overcome all the challenges and execute the project within the stipulated time,” Reddy said.