The multi-crore Poola Subbaiah Veligonda Project, designed to provide Krishna water to the parched parts of Prakasam, Nellore and Kadapa districts, may miss the fresh deadline of December 2023 going by the pace of its work.
The project is designed to draw 43.50 tmcft of flood water from the foreshore of the Srisailam reservoir at Kollamvagu by gravity to irrigate 4.47 lakh acres and provide drinking water to 15.20 lakh people in the fluoride-affected areas spread across 30 mandals in the three districts. It was launched in 2004 as part of ‘Jalayagnam’ by former Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy at ₹765 crore soon after coming to power. Owing to time and cost overruns, however, its cost was later revised to ₹8,054.14 crore.
Completed works of the project include the Nallamalla Sagar, which was created by closing off the three gaps of Sunkesula, Gottipadia and Kakarla; the 18.82-km Tunnel 1; the head regulator; feeder canal (21.8 km); Teegaleru canal (48.30 km); and Gottipadia canal (11.40 km).
As for the Eastern Main canal, 127.325 km of its total 130.82 km had been dug, according to a status report compiled by the Irrigation department.
An expenditure of ₹3,581.67 crore was incurred till 2014; ₹1,414.51 crore between 2014 and 2019; and ₹952.52 crore since 2019. A sum of ₹4,061.03 crore is still required to complete the gigantic project, including the ₹2,206.95 crore for the ongoing works, ₹612.82 crore for land acquisition and ₹1,067.63 crore for rehabilitation and resettlement. Project Superintending Engineer Gangadhara Reddy said they were doing their best to complete the stage II works by December 2023.
People of the three drought-prone districts, however, are not sure when they will get water from the project for irrigation and drinking purposes. A delegation of farmers, after visiting the project site, doubted that the project will meet the deadline set by Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, given the current pace of works and a lack of funds.
‘’For Tunnel 2, a distance of 654 metres is yet to be drilled. At the current pace of three metres per day, it may take another 220 days for the works to be completed,” opined Samyukta Kisan Morcha Prakasam district convenor Ch. Ranga Rao.
Acharya N.G. Ranga Kisan Samastha general secretary Ch. Seshaiah said there was an inordinate delay in completing this project whereas the neighbouring Telangana was steadying building the Palamuru Rangareddy Lift Irrigation Scheme to irrigate 12.30 lakh acres.
Farmers will organise massive protests in October to highlight their water woes, said Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangam Prakasam district secretary Vadde Hanuma Reddy.