Telangana government received relief from the Supreme Court on Monday, 9 January, as the court issued clarifications on the maintenance of status quo order it passed last July on the ongoing work at the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP).
The order clarified that the status quo the court sought does not prevent the Telangana government from offering compensation for the acquisition of land required to augment the Kaleshwaram project’s capacity by a thousand million cubic feet (TMC) per day — taking it to three TMC per day.
The apex court also clarified that its July order does not stop the Central Water Commission (CWC) and the Godavari River Management Board from considering the appeals filed by the Telangana government as well as its revised Detailed Project Report (DPR), according to the legal website LiveLaw.in.
The court had earlier issued its status quo order on the case while responding to a petition filed by farmers affected by the land acquisition bid.
The Telangana Irrigation Department, in its petition, informed the court that it proposed to draw one more TMC of water per day from Godavari for best use of water during the monsoon season.
In the petition, Telangana government requested the court to vacate the stay order on the ongoing works.
About Kaleshwaram project
The Kaleshwaram project is expected to produce 240 TMC (195 from Medigadda barrage, 20 from Sripada Yellampalli project and 25 from groundwater).
Of this, 169 TMC is meant for irrigation, 30 TMC to supply water to Hyderabad, 16 for industrial use, and 10 for drinking water in villages in the vicinoty. The remainder is estimated as evaporation loss.
It was in 2015-16 that the Telangana government re-engineered the Pranahita Chevella Lift Irrigation project and proposed the KLIP.
The aim was to increase agricultural productivity in the northeastern parts of Telangana. And the re-designed project was to lift two TMC of water per day for 90 days every year from the Godavari river.
However, in 2019, the project was modified so as to draw an additional TMC of water every day.
The state began looking at land acquisition to build an additional irrigation canal with a one-TMC capacity. The new canal was proposed to be built parallel to the existing two-TMC capacity canal.
The additional one TMC capacity would allow Telangana to draw 240 TMC of water — its total yearly allocation of the inter-state river water — in 60 days instead of 90.
Hurdles along the way
However, the KLIP fell foul of the Union government’s Ministry of Jal Shakti, which asked the state to stop work on the project as it did not have all the necessary sanctions and approvals.
The project expansion was also challenged before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which held that the state government had not got the necessary environmental clearances to go ahead with its plans.
The NGT also asked the state government to have the projected evaluated by a committee of experts.
However, the Telangana government initiated moves for the acquisition of land for the project, which was first challenged in the state high court, and then in the Supreme Court.
The project was inaugurated by the then Telangana governor ESL Narasimhan and Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, along with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and the then Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on June 21, 2019.