Hyderabad: The Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change has provided final forest clearance to the second phase of the Palamuru-Ranga Reddy Lift Irrigation Project, in a relief to the Telangana state government.
Central forest deputy inspector general Sravan Kumar Varma communicated this through a letter to the special chief secretary of the state forest department.
This clearance will enable the government take up works pertaining to irrigation too. The government had earlier given an undertaking before the National Green Tribunal that it would not take up any work pertaining to irrigation on forest land, while continuing with drinking water supply work.
The forest clearance seems to have come at an opportune moment, close to the conclusion of Chief Minister K. Chandrase-khar Rao’s Sahasra Chandi Yagam.
Mr Rao expressed his happiness over the development and conveyed his gratitude to Union minister Dr Harsh Vardhan. He appreciated the efforts by officials of the irrigation and forest departments.
After the TRS came into power, Mr Rao had decided to redesign the Palamuru-Ranga Reddy project, designed by the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh government to draw water from the Jurala Project to irrigate 10 lakh acres in Mahabubnagar, Ranga Reddy and Nalgonda districts.
Mr Rao had asked authorities to redesign the project, as it would increase the load on the Jurala project, which is small and may not be able to pump 1.5 tmc ft of water every day from the reservoir.
The state government then changed the water source from Jurala to the foreshore of the Srisailam reservoir and linked it to new reservoirs to increase pumping capacity from 1.5 tmc ft to 2 tmc ft.
According to the CMO, after the redesigning, the ayacut was increased from 10 lakh acres to 12.30 lakh acres and submerging of areas was significantly reduced.
After redesigning it, the state government requested the Centre, in May 2017, to accord permission for allocating 205.48 hectares of forest land to the irrigation department in Achampet forest division of Nagar Kurnool district.
The forest advisory committee issued a first stage permission in April 2018. As the state government has completed all required formalities, after seeing its committed efforts, the Centre issued final clearance.
The CMO said that forest land was required for construction of first stage pumphouse of the project, of Anjana Giri reservoir at Narlapur and to construct a tunnel between Narlapur and Anjana Giri reservoir.
The CMO said that as far as environmental clearance is concerned, stage 1 permission has been obtained and the irrigation department is preparing a report for a final environmental clearance.
The CMO said former minister Dr Nagam Janardhan Reddy had approached the High Court to stop the project, alleging some irregularities in the project tenders. However, the court had dismissed it, calling the allegations baseless.
The CMO said that Opposition leaders and Andhra Pradesh leaders, including Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, had worked hard to block project works.
Stating that administrative sanction was given by the government on June 10, 2016, at an estimated cost of Rs 35,200 crore, the CMO disclosed in a press release that in this tenure the government has taken all steps to take up project works on priority....