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Dummugudem project to be shelved?

Dummugudem project to be shelved?
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Dummugudem project to be shelved.The project was envisaged in 2007 with an objective to stabilise nearly 14.13 lakh acres under Nagarjunasagar ayacut by diverting 165 tmc of floodwaters of Godavari to Krishna basin from the existing barrage pond at Dummugudem.

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Khammam: The Telangana government, which is keen on reviewing the irrigation projects in the state, appears to have come to a conclusion to shelve the controversy-ridden multi-crore Mahatma Jyothi Rao Pule Dummugudem-Nagarjunasagar Tail Pond Link Canal Project. The project is dormant for the last few years due to sustained confrontation from the public representatives and farmers in Khammam and Nalgonda districts.

A view of Dummugudem tail pond link canal project

The project was envisaged in 2007 with an objective to stabilise nearly 14.13 lakh acres under Nagarjunasagar ayacut by diverting 165 tmc of floodwaters of Godavari to Krishna basin from the existing barrage pond at Dummugudem.

Brushing aside the concern expressed by the finance department over project’s financial viability, the then Congress government led by Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy accorded administrative sanction for Rs 8,930 crore in 2007. Later, it was enhanced to Rs 19,521 crore in 2009, even before the government got the detailed project report (DPR).

The bidding process for the 244 km (including 38 km twin tunnel) long canal having six lifts divided into 10 packages was completed in 2009. Subsequently, the government had released about Rs 700 crore as mobilisation advances to contractors.

Since then not even 10 per cent of the works have been completed following a constant hue and cry raised by the Opposition parties that the project would jeopardise the interests of farmers in Khammam and Nalgonda districts.

While the Left Parties contended that the project would incur huge expenditure without much benefit to farmers, who stand to lose more than 10,000 acres for the project, the Telangana protagonists and intellectuals termed it as a ploy to divert Krishna waters to Rayalaseema. Moreover, the six lifts of the proposed project require a whopping 1,136 MWs of power.

Retired chief engineer of Central Water Commission R Vidyasagar Rao has always maintained that the project was intended to compensate the damage caused to the farmers of the NSP command due to the unauthorised diversion of water from Srishailam reservoir to Rayalaseema through Pothireddypadu regulator.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report of 2012 detected some of the glaring anomalies in commissioning project. The CAG said that the government failed to establish the technical viability of the project. The CAG said the reasons stated by the government for enhancing project cost to Rs 19,521 crore from Rs 8,930 are not acceptable.

It also found fault with the government for paying more than 1 per cent mobilisation advance to contractors even before completion of survey and investigation. Since then the project has been in a dormant state. The TRS government, which always argued that the venture is neither financially viable nor pragmatic as it feels Telangana is not going to be benefited by this, is thinking of scrapping the project.

According to highly placed sources in the government, a team of irrigation experts, who recently inspected the Tail Pond project site, has advised the State government not to go with the project. A meagre allocation of Rs 1 crore for the project in the Budget 2015-16 is also an indication that the government was in no mood to continue the project.

However, the government appears to be in no hurry in shelving the project with immediate effect fearing legal issues. It may take a final call after verifying the legalities, it is learnt. Speaking to The Hans India, CPM district secretary Pothineni Sudarshan Rao said: “Instead of tail pond project, the government should redesign the ongoing Rajiv Sagar Dummugudem Lift Irrigation Scheme to extend it to the Palair Balancing Reservoir.”

By Adepu Mahender

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