PRAKASAM: The Tunnel-1 works of the Veligonda project, which aims to irrigate the dry lands in Prakasam, Nellore and Kadapa districts, were done at a record pace and completed by Wednesday.
The Andhra Pradesh government has taken all efforts to ensure the completion of these long-pending works as per the promise made by the Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and the Krishna waters will be diverted in the coming season. Accordingly, the Tunnel-1 project works were expedited and completed by yesterday.
With a total length of 3.6 km, the tunnel was dug at an average of 9.23 m per day.
It may be noted that during the TDP regime, when the work commenced, digging was going on at one foot a day. They had assured that the tunnel works would be completed by 2016. But eventually the estimated cost of work was increased. The distance dug from June 8, 2014 to May 29, 2019 was a mere 600 meters, which gives one an understanding of how work progressed then.
Works then resumed from November 2019, and by January 13, 2021, 3.6 km were dug in the first tunnel and the excavation work completed.
It is noteworthy that the work was completed by overcoming the obstacles caused by the sudden lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by heavy rains during this period.
During the TDP regime, Rs 66.44 Crore was looted in the form of commissions, where contractors favorable to them were given the task of repairing boring machines used for tunnel construction, which was in violation of regulations.
However, when the YS Jagan Government came to power, it reduced the costs by reverse tendering process, brought it down to Rs 61.76 Crore, and completed the task of excavating Tunnel-1.
In addition to reducing costs, the YSRCP government has shown its commitment in getting the works completed faster.
The second tunnel works in the project is also progressing rapidly. Rehabilitation funds have also been released. The AP government is working to complete the first phase of work for the coming season and to complete the resettlement project for the displaced.
Nallamala Sagar works have already been completed. On June 24, Rs 1,411.56 Crore was sanctioned to rehabilitate 7,555 displaced families from 11 flood-hit villages in Nallamala Sagar.
The construction of the resettlement colonies was also accelerated. YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has directed to rehabilitate the residents of Nallamala Sagar before the floods hit Srisailam and these works have also picked up speed.
Irrigation Minister P Anil Kumar Yadav congratulated Water Resources Department officials and the contractor Megha Engineering & Infrastructures Ltd. for completing the tunnel works in record time. The Minister personally called the Water Resources Secretary J Shyamala Rao, ENC C Narayana Reddy and CE Jalandhar over telephone on Wednesday night and congratulated them on completing the work. He also suggested that the second tunnel works should also be completed at the same speed.
As per the promise made by CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on February 20 last year, Krishna waters would be diverted from Srisailam to Nallamala Sagar by next season after completion of the first phase. He has kept his word to that extent where the Tunnel-1 works were completed on Wednesday night.
The Poola Subbaiah Veligonda Project was designed to draw 43.58 TMC floodwaters from the Srisailam reservoir. Through the Tunnel-1, 10.7 TMC water will be drawn from Tunnel-1 for irrigating 1.19 lakh acres and providing drinking water to 30 mandals in the Prakasam, Nellore and Kadapa districts.
The project was planned during the tenure of former chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy to draw floodwaters of the Krishna River from the upstream of Srisailam Reservoir via the Kollam Vagu through these two tunnels.