Lal Bahadur Shastri laid the foundation stone for the project on May 22, 1964
Cost of the project has gone up to Rs. 9,479 crore from Rs. 120 croreIt has taken 42 years for the project to be realisedThe Alamatti Dam is named as Lal Bahadur Shastri Sagar
BIJAPUR: The stage is set for the dedication of the Upper Krishna Project that has been designed to irrigate 15.36 lakh acres of land in the drought-prone districts of Bijapur, Bagalkot, Gulburga and Raichur.
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam will dedicate the project to the nation at a function at the Alamatti Dam site on Monday.
On May 22, 1964, then Union Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri laid the foundation stone for the project.
The Alamatti Dam is named as Lal Bahadur Shastri Sagar. A formal announcement will be made in this regard at the dedication ceremony.
When conceived, the cost of the project was Rs. 120 crore. However, the cost of the project, which underwent revisions several times in the last four decades, has now reached Rs. 9,479 crore. Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam Limited, a nodal agency implementing the project, has spent Rs. 8,750 crore.
It is not only a dream come true for the people of the region but also an important step in utilising a substantial quantum of the 734 tmcft of water allocated to the State by the Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal, headed by R.S. Bachawat, in May 1976. Of the bulk allotment, the State earmarked 173 tmcft of water for the Upper Krishna Project under Scheme A of the Bachawat Tribunal award.
The State has drawn up a plan to irrigate an additional area of 10.5 lakh acres of land in the final phase of the project by utilising surplus waters in the Krishna that is yet to be determined.
The project comprises Alamatti and Narayanpur dams, two major canal systems based on gravity flow Narayanpur right and left bank canals and offshore schemes such as Alamatti right and left bank canals, Mulwad, Chimmalagi, Indi, Rampur and Murol lift irrigation schemes, and a 290 MW hydroelectric plant at the footstep of the Alamatti Dam.
Though the two dams are located in Bijapur and Bagalkot districts, Gulburga district is a major beneficiary with an area of 9.5 lakh acres of land coming under irrigation.
In all, 201 villages were affected by the project, and 136 of them have completely been submerged in the backwaters of the Alamatti and Narayanpur reservoirs.
As many as 80,000 families have been displaced and they are settled in well-developed rehabilitation centres spread along the contour of the two reservoirs.
Former MP Murgeppa Sugandhi, former MLA Baburao Hujare, Communist leader N.K. Upadhyaya and a few others, who struggled for the sake of the project in the 1950s and 1960s, are no more.
Senior journalist Shriram Pingle, who attended the foundation stone laying ceremony, recalled the speech of Lal Bahadur Shastri.
According to him, Lal Bahadur Shastri announced amid applause that the project would be realised in eight years instead of the planned period of 10 years.
At present, there is more to be done to accomplish the task he set 42 years ago.