Friday, August 21, 2009

Massive lift irrigation Schemes Flawed, Warns Dr. JP

Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan warned today that the massive irrigation projects taken up by the State Government under ‘jalayagnam’ without a cost-benefit analysis would prove to be the albatross of future generations.

Talking to the media, Dr. JP made it plain right at the outset that his party was one hundred percent in favor of irrigation and supported productive utilization of every drop of water. But most of the lift irrigation projects taken up at a cost of Rs.1.18 lakh crore of the total Rs.1.75 lakh crore under ‘jalayagnam’ would turn out to be useless in practice, however laudable the Government intentions were

The lift irrigation schemes undertaken by the Government would require 7000 to 8000 mw of power and cast a burden of Rs.50 crore a day on power subsidy.

He pointed out that even in a rich and developed country like the U. S. a scheme of the Pranahita-Chevella magnitude had not been taken up. The Colorado project in the U.S. lifts water to a height of 400 ft and utilizes 11 TMC ft of water to irrigate five lakh acres and provide drinking water to lakhs of people in 11 towns. In contrast, water is to be lifted to a height of 1600 to 1800 feet in our State. The Pranahita-Chevella scheme is envisaged to utilize 160 TMC ft of water. Although the Government claims that the capital cost comes to Rs.2.5 lakh per acre, it is likely to shoot up to Rs.5 lakh by the time the scheme is completed. In addition, the scheme involves a recurring expenditure of Rs.50,000 an acre on operation and maintenance.

He wanted the Government to consult the Central Water Commission and top irrigation experts in the world and formulate productive schemes to utilize every drop of water.

He appealed to all parties to transcend their party loyalties and join hands so that the State’s long-term interests are safeguarded.

Dr. JP recalled that as Collector of Prakasam district he took up small lift irrigation schemes and brought two lakh acres under irrigation at a cost of Rs.2000 per acre.

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