Telangana's Kaleshwaram project, touted to be the world's largest multi-stage, multi-purpose lift irrigation project, was on Friday dedicated to the nation by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR).
Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP) was inaugurated in the presence of Governor E S L Narasimhan, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.
The inaugural ceremony was held at the project site in Jayashankar Bhupalpally district near the state's borders with Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh.
Built across Godavari river, KLIP will lift the water to a height of half-a-kilometer. It is designed to irrigate 45 lakh acres for two crops in a year, meet the drinking water requirement of 70 percent of the state and also cater to the needs of the industry.
The ceremony was preceded by 'Japa Sankalpa yagnam' at Medigadda barrage in which KCR participated along with his wife Shobha Rao. The couple performed various rituals under the guidance of Sringeri Peetham seers.
KCR took the guests around a photo exhibition and explained to them, the key features of the project. The foundation stone for the Rs 80,500 crore project was laid in 2016 and the government claims that it is the world's biggest project of its kind, completed in the shortest time.
The government is planning to lift two thousand million cubic (TMC) feet of Godavari water per day from Medigadda barrage. The project will start from July.
Harish Rao absent
However, the one thing that many people noticed during the inauguration event of the project was the absence of senior Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader and former Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao.
Harish, who is KCR's nephew, is largely credited with ensuring the project's completion in record time as Irrigation Minister, by holding frequent review meetings and ground-level inspections.
The Siddipet legislator instead chose to participate in a 'Yoga Day' event in Hyderabad on Friday morning.
In February, when the state government expanded its cabinet, with 10 ministers being sworn in, Harish was not inducted despite winning with a majority of over one lakh votes, raising many eyebrows.
The Kaleshwaram project comprises a water supply route spanning 1,832 km, a gravity canal spread across 1,531 km, 203 km in tunnel routes, 20 lifts, 19 pump houses and 19 reservoirs with a combined storage capacity of 141 TMC. It requires nearly 4,992 MW of electricity to pump 2 TMC of water every day in the first phase. The requirement will go up to 7,152 MW for lifting 3 TMC from next year.
The Telangana government said that the works were taken up at a cost of Rs 80,190 crore. KCR has also invited top officials of the banks which provided loans for the project. "We have not received even a single rupee from the Centre. The project is self-funded and also with loans raised from a consortium of 20 commercial banks," he had told reporters earlier this week.
The government said that Rs 7,400 crore loan extended by Andhra Bank was accepted and in the state's 2017-18 Budget, Rs 6,681.87 crore was allocated for the project.