After much delay, the state government has finally come out with a detailed project report (DPR) on the controversial Mallanasagar and Kaleswaram projects, but experts have found fault with it.
A panel of three independent experts consisting of K. Raghu who works with the Telangana State Transco, international water consultant Gujju Biksham and data analyst Siva Kumar, who prepared the 71-page report, have said the project is not viable, according to a report by VM Krishna Rao in the Deccan Chronicle.
However, project engineer B. Hari Ram has refuted the experts’ claim.
Meanwhile, the Opposition is planning to corner the government over the report with Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) President N. Uttam Kumar saying that they will raise the issue in the Winter Session of the Legislature.
The Mallannasagar reservoir is proposed to be constructed in Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's home district of Medak and aims to divert water to drought-hit regions of the state.
However, some of the key issues that affect the project are making water available to more than 18 lakh acres in North Telangana districts, the procurement of funds and the provision of power to lift water, the report says.
The committee said that the 50 tmc feet capacity Mallanasagar reservoir, was being constructed in an area where reservoir-induced seismicity could cause earthquakes. The cost of providing irrigation annually, including power expenses of up to Rs 72,000 towards comes to around Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.8 lakh, which is the highest expenditure per acre on a lift irrigation scheme anywhere in the world, the report adds.
The dam at Mallanasagar is parallel to the river and this would create high hydraulic gradient which could cause waterlogging, the experts said.
As regards the Kaleswaram project, the experts said that the expenditure on it would be to the tune of up to Rs 33,000 crore whereas the income accruing from the project would be only around Rs 4,000 crore.
The experts have said that the Kaleswaram project can provide 169 tmc water for irrigation after completion but this will not be enough to irrigate 18.19 acres as claimed by the government. The government in its defence has said that it is possible as they are using the latest water transportation methods.
While the experts maintain that total cost of the projects is exorbitant at between Rs 90,000 crore and Rs 1.8 lakh crore, the government has said that the figures are wrong. It says that the total project cost as per DPR is Rs 80,499.71 crore and the cost has escalated due to valid reasons ranging from increase in storage capacity from 11 tmc feet to 147 tmc feet, surge in land acquisition and rehabilitation costs over a period of eight years.
The Opposition had been hankering for long for the government to bring out the DPR because the project details were sketchy. The government has responded by saying that not releasing the report was part of a strategy, as it did not want the naysayers to use it against the state’s interests.