The works of the long-pending Pula Subbaiah Veligonda project has reached the fag end of its completion and going by the pace of works, farmers can expect the project to fructify in a few months.
The project, planned during the tenure of former Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy under the Jalayagnam scheme in undivided Andhra Pradesh, envisages to draw 43.50 tmcft of flood water of the Krishna river from the foreshore of Srisailam Project Reservoir through Kollam Vagu, upstream of Srisailam Reservoir, by gravity through two tunnels and thereafter, to impound in Nallamala Sagar Reservoir through a feeder canal.
The ₹6,500-crore project has missed several deadlines, suffering cost and time overruns for many reasons including technical snag faced while drilling the two gigantic tunnels without blasting so as not to disturb the natural environment of the Nagarjunasagar Srisailam tiger reserve. “Only 280 metres of drilling work is still left. The first tunnel with seven metre diameter covering a distance of 18.8 km is all set for completion by the November end.
Dismantling of the tunnel boring machine(TBM) from inside, a laborious process, may take another month,” Superintending Engineer (constructions) N. Nagesh told The Hindu, after taking stock of the progress of works.
The head regulator work at Kollam Vagu which is designed to draw water from the foreshore of Srisailam reservoir has been hit owing to recurring flood situation in the Krishna river this year. The heavy inflows into the Srisailam reservoir made it difficult to move men and material and complete the works swiftly, he explains.
The Nallamala Sagar reservoir has already been completed by closing the Sunkesula, Gottipadia and Kakarla gaps. Construction of the first tunnel has also been completed up to a distance of 18.54 km so far.
The first stage of the project envisages to draw 10.7 tmcft water from Srisailam reservoir during floods and ensure irrigation water to 1.19 lakh acres of farm lands and drinking water to around 4 lakh people.
The government is keen on commencing the trial run of the release of the Krishna water to Nallamala Sagar in January and step it up after overcoming the teething problems during the kharif season, says official sources.