Large parts of command area remain without water
Large parts of the command area under the Karanja Major Irrigation Project, one of the major sources of drinking water to towns such as Bidar, Humnabad and Bhalki as also a number of villages, remain deprived of water though the project has already cost nearly Rs. 500 crore to the exchequer.
Initially taken up for drought relief work and to provide employment to the affected people, it was later converted into a major irrigation project with an initial cost of Rs. 9.90 crore and the revised cost has been put at Rs. 532 crore. It is the only major irrigation project in the district
Poor allocation of funds, delay in rehabilitation and resettlement of submerged villages and the abnormal escalation of the cost have deprived farmers of the benefits of the project, which is in the Godavari basin in Bidar district, say sources. Though official records in the Water Resources Department claim that irrigation potential for 22,113 hectares out of the total 29,227 hectares had been created, officials working on the project admit that not even 50 per cent of the area under irrigation gets water.
One of the reasons given by officials for failure of the project is the siltation of the field irrigation channels (FICs).
In the right bank canal (RBC), out of the total 18,207 hectares command area under irrigation, FICs have been laid in 17,207 hectares. However, even before water could be released into the canal, these channels “disappeared” due to heavy siltation and plant growth. The same was the case with a majority of the distributaries in both right and left bank canals. The RBC had 107 distributaries, of which 106 have been completed and the left bank canal has 39 distributaries.
The authorities are also not in a position to store water to the full reservoir level of 584.15 metres as the acquisition of land, which will be submerged in the event of raising the water-level, is not complete.
At present, water is being stored below 582.65 metres, as anything higher than this submerges the nearby areas. Officials have sought another Rs. 20 crore from the State Government to complete the land acquisition to store the water to the full level. The main canals and the distributaries are also in a bad shape, with the Shahbad stone linings constructed several years ago being damaged or removed by miscreants. Thanks to the hard soil conditions, these canals have survived all these years and even after the release of water in the canals, seepages have not been reported.
Meanwhile, officials have now started preparing the estimates for including the project under the Extension, Renovation and Modernisation Project funded by the Union Government to take up major repairs of canals and distributaries to allow the free flow of water.