Full utilisation of Penna dam a distant dream

The K. Sriramakrishna Penna Ahobilam Balancing Reservoir (KS-PABR) has hardly ever stored water beyond even half of its maximum retaining capacity — a telling example of how successive governments are failing to ensure full utilisation of existing dams, canals and reservoirs in the region.

The Penna reservoir, completed in 1994, has a storage capacity of 11 tmcft and production capacity of 40 MW. However, due to lack of sufficient inflows, the reservoir has never been filled to even half of its capacity, thus denting the hopes of farmers in Anantapur region.

Fed by the Tungabhadra through the High-Level Main Canal (HLC), the highest quantum of water ever stored in the reservoir is 4.9 tmcft (434.9 m) during 2015-16.

Full utilisation of the reservoir can be possible by pumping in ₹477 crore before the next monsoon — ₹300 crore for pending HLC modernisation works, ₹156 crore on land acquisition and ₹21.88 crore for laying of geomembrane.

6 tmcft likely this year

A sum of ₹9.18 crore has already been spent on grouting works since 2002, but it helped store only below 5 tmcft and on the completion of ongoing works (at a cost of ₹2.6 crore), Superintendending Engineer Nayakanti Rajasekhar expects to store 6 tmcft this year — the maximum ever in its history.

In some cheer for the district, the realisation at Tungabhadra Dam at Hospet in Karnataka is expected to go up from 163 tmcft to 168 tmcft and allocation through HLC to Anantapur will also go up to 25.755 tmcft against the earlier estimated 24.98 tmcft. Regarding demand, there is a 50% reduction due to incessant rains during south-west monsoon and a good opportunity to store more water till the demand picks up for Rabi crops by December 3.

Geomembrane only solution

A Central Dam Safety Team in October 2015 had suggested the installation of a geomembrane on the upstream face of the dam so that seepage and leakages can be arrested and additional ayacut served. The remedy has not been taken seriously and in March this year, the government called for a project estimate, which was submitted in June, but no decision was taken on the ₹21.88 crore at a time when there is scope to store additional water.

There is no other storage tank or reservoir in Anantapur to draw water from Tungabhadra and store it. The HLC modernisation works, which remained inconclusive since 2012, have been closed midway, and the system remains leaky bringing in only 50% of the intended quantum (4,000 cusecs).

Once filled to capacity, another 2,600 acres of land will get inundated, which need to be acquired by the government in Korrakodu, Peddakaukuntla, MM Halli, Budigam, and Jayapuram. Fortunately, no village will get submerged. An exercise has begun by the revenue department to survey those lands.


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