An unprecedented flood in the river Godavari has left a massive trail of loss to the prestigious Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project by submerging three its five key pump-houses linked to Medigadda, Annaram and Sundilla Barrages.
The submergence of three pump houses also throws the future of ayacut under the irrigation systems and tanks that were being given water for the last five years into uncertainty. The project played a key role in boosting food grains, particularly paddy, production in Telangana.
According to the project authorities the flood level in Godavari at Kaleshwaram, located in the upstream of Medigadda Barrage surpassed the previous highest level of 107.05 meters, recorded in the 1986 floods, and crossed 108 meters early on Thursday and touched 110 meters in the wee hours of Friday.
At Medigadda Barrage, the peak flood was measured/recorded as about 28.71 lakh cusecs. At 12.30 pm it receded and was at 28.58 lakh cusecs.
The rising flood waters of Godavari first entered Medigadda pump house followed by Annarama and Sundilla. The pump houses are located at Kannepalli, Kasipeta and Gunjepadaga villages in the upstream of barrages. The three pump house have 17, 12 and 14 motors, respectively, all of 40 megawatt capacity.
The pumps or motors include the provision for lifting the additional one Thousand Million Cubic Feet (TMC ft) each day planned by the State Government. It is awaiting clearances from the regulatory agencies such as Central Water Commission (CWC).
All pumps or motors and their control rooms have submerged and the engineers and other staff stationed there have been moved to safety in boats after hours of efforts. Repeated attempts to contact the senior authorities and engineers of Kaleshwaram project had earlier failed as they did not take calls.
However, an engineer working for the project said flood from Sriramsagar-Kaddam-Manair-Yellampally and other rivulets from the upstream as well as increased level in the backwaters of Medigadda with huge flood from Pranahitha, jacked up the water level in the river bed and entered the pump house at Kannepally first and later into the pump houses at Kasipeta (Annaram) and Gunjepadaga (Sundilla).
Advisor to the State Government on Lift Irrigation project K. Penta Reddy said in a statement that this was a result of natural calamity beyond the human control. “The pump houses are constructed abutting the river courses and it is a natural phenomenon that flood enters them when it goes up abnormal. There were incidents of pump-houses submergence in the past at Kalwakurthy lift irrigation project and the facility was restored within a few months”, he said.
Citing other such incidents in the country he said Srisailam power houses were submerged in 1998, 2009 and 2020, two hydel stations in Jammu & Kashmir in 2004 and another hydel station in Uttarakhand in 2009.