Hyderabad: Sinking of a portion of the Medigadda barrage, a part of the ambitious Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP) in Telangana, has given ammunition to the Congress and BJP to target the ruling BRS during the ongoing election campaign.
Both the opposition parties are claiming that the incident proves their allegations of corruption in Kaleshwaram, touted as the world’s biggest lift irrigation project.
The Centre was quick to send a team of experts for a probe on the representation by Union minister and state BJP President G. Kishan Reddy.
The Ministry of Jal Shakti sent a six-member team headed by National Dam Safety Authority Chairman Anil Jain to conduct the investigation and submit a report. The team will visit the barrage in Jayashankar Bhupalpally district and interact with all the stakeholders.
According to the order of the Ministry, pillars numbering 15 to 20 of the sixth to eighth blocks of the barrage reportedly sank down on the night of October 21.
KLIP officials said a portion of the barrage caved in after pillar number 20 of Block 7 of the barrage partially sunk amid a loud sound.
The incident led to temporary closure of the bridge of the barrage across Godavari river that links Telangana with Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district.
Suspecting sabotage, the project officials complained to local police. The barrage is 1.6 km long and the portion which is partially sunk is only 356 metres from Maharashtra.
The project engineers claimed that there is no threat to the barrage as they announced that the repair will be carried out after assessing the damage.
However, the opposition is not convinced. It wants a thorough probe, not just into this incident but into the corruption in the entire project.
Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) President A. Revanth Reddy said the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) should also probe the allegations of corruption in the Kaleshwaram project.
He alleged that the corrupt practices were exposed with the sinking of pillars of the mega project constructed at a cost of Rs.1.20 lakh crore.
Demanding an inquiry by a sitting judge into the sinking of a part of the barrage, the Congress leader alleged that the state government is trying to hush up the incident by stopping mediapersons and opposition leaders going for inspection.
Alleging that Chief Minister KCR’s family had made money from the project, Revanth Reddy said Congress MP Rahul Gandhi had reiterated this during his visit to Telangana last week.
He also mocked KCR for claiming it to be the world’s largest lift irrigation project, saying that within a few years, pumps worth hundreds of crores have submerged and now the pillars are sinking.
Revanth Reddy was referring to the submergence of pumps during the floods last year.
Meanwhile, the BJP alleged that KLIP is nothing but a scam by KCR, claiming that the Centre constituted a committee on the request of Kishan Reddy.
The BJP leader said for a long time that engineers have been expressing doubts over the quality of construction of this project and it has been proved right.
“KCR had described the project as an engineering marvel. He claimed to read 80,000 books, transformed as engineer and got the project constructed without lending an ear to the engineers. Project estimates were increased and public money was looted in the name of the project,” said Kishan Reddy.
“In the past, the pump houses of the project were submerged due to heavy floods. Now part of the project has sunk in. The lapses of the project are coming out one after another,” he added.
He also claimed that in the last five years, only 150 tmcft water was lifted and released. Kishan Reddu also recalled that KCR had promised 400 tmcft water to the farming sector. The BJP leader demanded him to reveal how much water was supplied for irrigation.
BJP’s central leaders, including Home Minister Amit Shah and party President J.P. Nadda, raised the issue of Kaleshwaram during their visits to Telangana, alleging that KCR milked Kaleshwaram like ATM.
“Kaleshwaram has become an ATM for KCR. The original project was of Rs 36,000 crore. Now the project has become worth Rs 1,20,000 crore. The water has only reached his farmhouse, and nowhere else,” Nadda had told a public meeting.
The multipurpose project touted as the world’s largest lift irrigation project was inaugurated in 2019. It was aimed at meeting over two-third of the state’s agriculture, drinking and industrial water needs.
The project was inaugurated by KCR along with then Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.
The KCR government, which had laid foundation for the project in 2016, completed major components of the project involving construction of barrages and pump houses.
Targeted at irrigating around 45 lakh acres, the project involves three barrages, 20 lifts, 19 pump houses, 19 reservoirs with a total capacity of 145 tmcft, where 43 machines of the capacity of 40MW each pumping the water through 203 km of tunnels and 1,531 km of canals.
BRS claims Kaleshwaram as one of its major achievements during the last nine years.
The latest incident at Medigadda barrage has taken place at a time when BRS is seeking a third term in power. The attacks by the opposition parties are likely to intensify in the coming days and this may put the BRS on the defensive.