The RLIP envisages to lift an estimated 3 TMC (34722 cusecs) every day during the flood season from the Krishna river and release the same into the Rayalaseema region. The project will come up at Sangameshwar, the holy place where Krishna and Tungabhadra merge. The pumping would be done into the Srisailam Right Main Canal (SRMC, which is located about 4 km away from Pothireddpadu. This would enable water supply to Rayalaseema, Nellore and Prakasam.
During flood season, the pumping machines of the RLS would pump out up to 8 TMC of water to quench Rayalaseema’s thirst. This would be achieved through 125 metre pipelines. The water would then be released through the delivery cisterns, whence it will travel for a distance of 22 km to reach SRMC and thence to the Telugu Ganga, Srisailam Right Branch Canal (SRBC) and the KC Canal. For this, a 4.5 km long canal would be dug between the project pump house and Sangameshwara and Muchumarri. The pump house will have 12 machines with pumps and motors of 33.04 megawatt capacity, each pumping 81.93 cumecs to a height of 39.60 metres.
The Rayalaseema LIP, being constructed at Sangameshwara in Kurnool district, is radically different from the other projects. This is bigger than the Handri Neeva, till now considered the biggest in AP, that has a pumping capacity of 40 TMC per year. This is not just the largest project in Rayalaseema, but also the largest in the state.
The project is the brainchild of young and energetic Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Sri YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. Following the footsteps of his illustrious father, who began the ambitious Jala Yagnam to increase the agricultural productivity in the state, chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has now taken up the prestigious Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Project to give a face-lift to the Rayalaseema region. The project, which has overcome teething technical and inter-state troubles, is now in the tendering stage.
Soon after the innovative idea of the Rayalaseema LIP flashed in his mind, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy undertook the scientific and technical feasibility studies and has now readied up the government for undertaking the project. When completed, the project will irrigate large areas of parched lands in Rayalaseema and will help the drought-stricken masses of the region.
It is indeed ironical that most of the Chief Ministers undivided and the present Andhra Pradesh came from the Rayalaseema, but the region continued to remain parched and arid. Quenching the thirst of the parched Rayalaseema has always been a day dream for most CMs. The sole honourable exception was late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, who hadput in place schemes that augmented the irrigational capabilities of Pothireddypadu and new projects like Handri Neeva and Galeru-Nagari.
The four districts of Kadapa, Kurnool, Anantapur and Chittoor are entitled to a total of 114 TMC from the Telugu Ganga of Srisailam project (29 TMCs), SRBC (19 TMC),Galeru-Nagari-GNSS (39), drinking water supply lines to Chennai (15 TMC), TBPHLC (10 ) and the evaporation loss (3 TMCs).
However, with some rare exceptions, the allocated 114 TMC supplied via Pothireddypadu has never been fully used. If one peruses the water usage from the Pothireddypadu, it becomes clear that except in 2018-19 and 2019-20, the utilisation was always sub-optimal. In 2004-5, only 56.51 of the 114 TMC was used. In 2005-06, only 78.49 TMC, in 2007-08, 48.05 TMC and in 2009-10, 60.14 TMC were used.. Similarly, in 2012-13, the utilisation was at its lowest. Only 22.49 TMCs could be utilised. The utilisation In 2014-15 was 59.17 TMC, while in 2015-16 only 0.95 TMC was released. In the last four years, the utilisation was 67.44, 91.70,115.40, 179.30 TMCs respectively.
Even during the flood season, Rayalaseema could not derive any benefit. In 2018-20, there were six spells of flood into Srisailam, due to which 889 TMC were released through the Spillway. Of this, 600 TMC went waste as it flowed into the sea. At the same time, in all the four Rayalaseema districts, there was acute water scarcity. Despite having a storing capacity of 120 TMC, the water went waste. The prime reason for this is the capacity inadequacies of the Pothireddypadu Head Regulator.
Normally, 7000 cusecs should be released into the Pothireddypadu Head Regulator from Srisailam at 854 feet water level. Similarly, 44000 cusecs should be released at 881 feet level. This is proving problematic and the flood water could be harnessed only for 15 to 20 days during the flood season. As a result, the Rayalaseema is unable to use the flood water. Hence, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has decided to divert the flood water. The experts have supported this idea of the CM to the fullest. The result of this brain-storming is the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Project (RLIP).
Interestingly, the demand for diverting Krishna water for the drinking and irrigational needs of Rayalaseema is not new. Yet, no government had any clue on how to tackle the daunting challenge. Though SRBC – Telugu Ganga scheme of 1990, Handri-Neeva, Muchumarri, KC Canal link from Srisailam, PABR and Chitravathi were completed, there was no change in the ground situation. Drought continues to stalk the region. Even the raise in the Pothireddypadu capacities to 44000 cusecs during the regime of late YS Rajasekhara Reddy has failed to serve the purpose.
It is in this light that the Rayalaseema Lift Project (RLIP) is a boon to the perennially parched Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh. This will address the long-standing problem of lack of irrigation in the region. The project will need 397 megawatts of power. The pumps will become functional at 243 feet water level and delivery would be possible at 273 feet level. An estimated 12000 acres of land needs to be acquired for the project.
For the farmers of the parched Rayalaseema, this project is sure to be a big boon. It will irrigate hitherto unirrigated lands and will bring prosperity to the region. The farmers of the region are thanking YS jagan Mohan Reddy for this great endeavour.