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KCR vows to secure national project tag for Kaleshwaram

KCR vows to secure national project tag for Kaleshwaram
Highlights

Settling issues concerning mega TS irrigation projects as well as getting them cleared on a mission mode and securing for the prestigious Kaleshwaram...

Hyderabad: Settling issues concerning mega TS irrigation projects as well as getting them cleared on a mission mode and securing for the prestigious Kaleshwaram ‘national project’ status top the immediate agenda of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.

Having succeeded in getting environmental and forest clearances for his two pet multi-crore major lift irrigation schemes -- Sita Rama and Palamuru Rangareddy projects, in just a month’s time, the Chief Minister has confidently initiated fresh moves to obtain national project status for Telangana’s lifeline - Kaleshwaram Project taken up at a whopping cost of Rs 70,000 crore and being executed with remarkable speed.

It is understood that KCR is bent upon achieving this goal before the Election Commission issues notification for the General Election.
Soon after assuming charge on December 13 as the Chief Minister for the second consecutive term, the TRS supremo declared that his government would accord top priority to the completion of ongoing irrigation projects, on which the State has already spent more than Rs 70, 000 crore over the last five years.

He also embarked on "Project Baata" to track the works in progress in the case of all projects. Recently, KCR, accompanied by top officials of the State Irrigation Department, visited Kaleshwaram and held a series of reviews with irrigation experts to address core issues and remove hurdles, if any. A time-bound action plan to complete the works on fast track and provide irrigation facility from Kaleshwaram in the next Kharif is being prepared.

Considering that Kaleshwaram already has all requisite permissions, including environmental clearances and Central Water Commission nod, and given the fact that works are in full swing at the project site, KCR is of the considered view that securing national project status for it would be a cinch.

Besides, Kaleshwaram as a national project would translate to a big relief to the State, which is set to face financial challenges due to the substantial additional expenditure entailed by much-watched welfare schemes, mainly Rythu Bandhu and double of pensions from the new financial year 2019-20.

Top officials said that the Rythu Bandhu (Rs 15,000 crore) and enhanced pensions (Rs 5,000 crore, including all pensions) alone will take away nearly 30 per cent of the plan expenditure from this year. Therefore, the government would have to find alternative avenues to meet the additional capital expenditure, mainly the completion of irrigation projects. The State government has already projected to spend Rs 1.70 lakh crore on the completion of all ongoing irrigation projects in five years.

It is in this context that KCR has decided to spearhead the demand to consider Kaleshwaram as a national project. Hence, during his recent meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he once again submitted a memoranda to him and urged the Centre to provide a grant of Rs 20,000 crore to Kaleshwaram as immediate relief so that the State could get a big financial relief from mounting debts and capital expenditure.

Officials said that KCR is unhappy over the Centre's delay in taking a decision to accord national project status to Kaleshwaram. He has asked chief secretary SK Joshi to pursue the issue with the ministries concerned at Centre. He is likely to personally meet some central leaders over the issue in February after completing the formation of cabinet. If the Centre agrees to his demand and makes an announcement, successive governments will have no option but to fund the project, sources said.

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