Upper Bhadra Irrigation project expansion faces green hurdle

Upper Bhadra Irrigation project expansion faces green hurdle
Karnataka government's proposal to expand 'Upper Bhadra Lift Irrigation project' to provide irrigation to Davanagere and Tumkur districts is facing green hurdle as a central panel has sought more details. Recently, the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) under the Union Environment Ministry had examined the state government's proposal and deferred its decision on granting environment clearance (EC) for want of more information.

Originally, the project was designed to lift water from Tunga river to Bhadra reservoirs in two stages to irrigate the parched lands of Chikkamagalur and Chitradurga districts. The stage-I of the project has got the EC and is underway. However in the stage-II, the state government has proposed expansion to extend irrigation facilities to farmers in Davanagere and Tumkur districts as well. Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Ltd (KNNL) is the implementing agency.

"After detailed deliberations, the EAC recommended that a sub-committee should visit the project site and submit a report on the viability of expansion of Upper Bhadra Lift Irrigation project," a senior government official told PTI. The central panel has noted that it would take a call on granting EC to the proposed expansion project after taking into account the inputs from the sub-committee, he said.

The EAC also observed that since lifting of water is sizeable, the economic viability of the lift irrigation project should be re-assessed based on the guidelines issued by Central Board of Irrigation and Power (CBIP), Delhi. "The project's viability should be based on the actual cost of the energy at the consumers point (LIS). The cost of lifting  per unit of water (cum) may also be worked out," the EAC has noted.

Besides, the EAC said that the state government has proposed drip irrigation to be adopted for high-density crops like groundnut and its suitability should be re-ascertained. The panel has also asked the state government to ensure that the land acquired for the project be suitably compensated with the prevailing guidelines and all commitments made during the Public Hearing should be fulfilled.

According to the proposal, the Upper Bhadra lift Irrigation Scheme envisages lifting of 17.40 TMC of water in Stage-I from Tunga river to existing Bhadra reservoir and lifting of 29.90 TMC of water in Stage-II from Bhadra reservoir to tunnel near Ajjampura in Tungabhadra sub-basin of Krishna basin. After tunnel, through Chitradurga Branch Canal and Tumkur Branch Canal, it is planned to irrigate 2,25,515 ha area by drip irrigation in the districts of Chikkamagalur, Chitradurga, Tumkur and Davanagere.

Out of 29.90 TMC of water, 19.04 TMC of water is earmarked for irrigation and remaining 10.86 TMC is allocated for filling of 367 minor irrigation tanks. The entire water distribution will be automated and controlled by SCADA system. About 787 villages are likely to be benefitted under this project. The proposed project requires 2,114 ha area land for construction of main canal and delivery chambers.

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