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Almatti Dam to quench thirst of N Karnataka

Our Correspondent  |  Chennai/ Almatti (Bijapur) 

The work on the Almatti Dam has not been all that smooth. It has taken 42 years for its completion and another four years for its formal dedication to the nation.
Controversies and disputes, coupled with the apathy of successive governments haunted this mega project and it is finally ready. Some 2.3 lakh people had to be evacuated to make way for the project.
President A P J Abdul Kalam dedicated the Almatti Dam to the nation on Monday. The reservoir has been named 'Lal Bahadur Shastri Reservoir'. The height of the dam built across the Krishna River is 519.6 metres.
Though the work on the dam started in 1963, it took 42 years to complete it due to an inter-state dispute between Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. It took another four years after completion to be inaugurated.
The Upper Krishna Project with a capacity of 123 TMC ft caters to Bijapur, Bagalkot, Gulbarga and Raichur districts. The then Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, had laid the foundation stone on May 22, 1964. The cost of the project was initially estimated at Rs 135 crore and when complete the cost will be Rs 8,750 crore. From 1989 to 1996 the work was carried out with assistance from the World Bank and in 1994, the Krishna Bhagya Jal Nigam Limited (KBJNL) was constituted to raise funds for the project and implement it. The KBJNL raised Rs 6,719.12 crore through bonds.
Following this, the work progressed well and the 1,568.33 metre-long dam came up. The dam has a width of 7.5 metre on the top and has 26 hi-tech crest gates and six sluice gates.
The Karnataka government had installed a 524.256-metre crest gate to use the water for power generation under scheme 'A'. It wanted to use the water for irrigation after implementation of scheme 'B'. The Krishna Tribunal's verdict provided for such a plan. However, the Supreme Court, following a complaint from the Andhra Pradesh intervened and prevented Karnataka from raising the height of the crest gate. As per the Supreme Court's direction the water level could be raised to 123.08 metre in the reservoir to a maximum height of 519.6 metre. The backwaters has submerged 48,787 hectares of agriculture land and 136 villages, affecting 2.30 lakh people.
Over 20,000 hectares have been irrigated by the Almatti Left Bank Canal lift irrigation project while the Almatti Right Bank Canal project has helped irrigate 9,900 hectares. The Mulawad Lift Irrigation scheme will help irrigate 30,850 hectares. An aggregate of Rs 270.13 crore has been spent for these projects.
The Rs 218 crore Ramatal Lift Irrigation scheme will benefit 26,200 hectares in Hungund taluk of Bagalkot district.
On the right side of the reservoir a power generation plant has been set up at a cost of Rs 674 crore. The six units will together produce 290 MW of electricity.
Almatti Dam has also been developed as a tourist spot. Six gardens have also come up on 77 acres of land at the base of the dam.
In a bid to provide connectivity to the places covered by backwater two bridges between Korti and Kolhar, and Parvatikatta-Anagawadi have been constructed.
The government has shifted Bagalkot that was submerged partly up to Navanagar. The entire Upper Krishna Project, including the rehabilitation has cost Rs 14,000 crore so far.

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First Published: Tue, August 22 2006. 00:00 IST