Irrigation department of Telangana government is doing preparations to conduct the dry run on a 140 mw capacity pump, first of the 7 pumps being installed at Ramadugu reservoir, about 180 kms from here.
The discharge capacity of this single electric pump is so huge that it can fill the Hussain Sagar Lake in Hyderabad city in just a couple of days.
The Ramadugu point is a part of the ongoing multi-stage Kaleshwaram Irrigation Project whose estimated cost is believed to have already crossed Rs 90,000 crore.
The Centre on Friday granted environmental clearances for this re-designed project, which was originally started by Congress government under the name Pranahita-Chevella project when Y S Rajasekhara Reddy was the chief minister in the undivided Andhra Pradesh.
The pump house of Ramadugu was touted to be the largest of its kind in Asia. It is designed for a discharge of 21,000 cusecs (cubic feet per second) of water when all 7 pumps are switched on.
Ramadugu pump house is just one of the four-stages of this gigantic lift irrigation project, which is also comprised of 7 sub-stages with varying degree of pumping capacity.
Each of these four large stages are designed to pump a maximum volume of 2 tmcft ((trillion metric cubic feet. 1 tmc is roughly 3.3 lakh liters of water flow per second) of water per day into the new and existing chain of reservoirs for supply of water across majority districts in the state.
The project makes use of gravity and tunneling to transport water to the intended areas wherever possible.
However, pumping is the primary mode of transport of water as River Godavari flows at a lower altitude while the elevation of most of the geographical area in Telangana is far higher.
The project envisages transporting 180 tmc of water from Rivar Godavari-equivalent to the storage capacity of Srisailam Reservoir on River Krishna, 20 tmc of water from the existing Yellampally Reservoir on Godavari besides handling another 25 tmc of water available in local catchment areas, mostly during the flood season.
It proposes to supply 134.5 tmc for irrigation to create 1.8 million acres of new command area apart from supplementing the needs of 1.8 million acres of existing irrigated areas, 30 tmc for Hyderabad drinking water needs, 10 tmc for supply to en-route villages and 16 tmc for industrial use.
According to the irrigation ministry officials, work on all the four pump houses at Ramadugu, Medaram, Annaram and Sundilla has been speeded up to make them ready by June, 2018 as chief minister K Chandrasekhara Rao wants to demonstrate the project benefits from the next Kharif season, in the run up to the 2019 elections.
But observers express doubts over such a possibility given the time and cost constraints. Critics in the past termed this project as the most expensive proposition in terms of per-acre cost to be incurred on supply of water. Telangana government is funding this project mostly through bank loans.
About 4,300 mw of power is required to operate all the pumps at once and the annual power bill could be anywhere between Rs 7,000 crore and Rs 11,000 crore if the project is run as per the designed capacity, according to one estimation.