Major breakthrough for Veligonda project, MEIL completes 2nd tunnel excavation

Tirupati: The Poola Subbaiah Veligonda irrigation project crossed a significant milestone on Tuesday. Contractors, the Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd (MEIL), completed the excavation works on the 7.5-km-long second tunnel, using advanced tunnel boring machines (TBMs).

The tunnel excavation works for the mega irrigation project started 15 years ago.

The project progressed slowly. A review was done in 2020 when the YSRC government assigned MEIL to undertake the pending works on both tunnels. MEIL completed the 3.6-km-long first tunnel in 13 months by January 2021. With the breakthrough for the second tunnel now, the project is on the verge of completion.

The state water resources department took up the excavation of two tunnels from Kothur near Dornala in Prakasam district to Kollam Vagu in the upper reaches of the Srisailam project in the Nallamala forest area.

The government wanted the digging of the first tunnel 7 metres, and the second tunnel 9 metres wide. The project is designed in such a way as to move one TMC per day or 3,000 cusecs of water from the first tunnel and 8,500 cusecs from the second tunnel.

The commencement of water drawn from the Srisailam Project is expected to greatly benefit the western Prakasam, Nellore and Kadapa districts. The completion of the project will provide irrigation water to 3.5 lakh acres in Prakasam, 80,000 acres in Nellore and 30,000 acres in Kadapa.

Moreover, the project would cater to the drinking water needs of 16 lakh people across 30 mandals in these three districts.

Notably, Asia's longest 39-metre conveyor belt system has been deployed in the tunnels to remove the excavated material. The project site is located in the core area of Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy Tiger Reserve. All works are carried out during the day as no vehicular movement is allowed in the area after sunset.

MEIL project manager P. Rambabu said the lack of access to tunnels was a major challenge as all machinery and construction material had to be transported on barges via the Krishna River.

“Smaller material was brought in via speed boats on the Srisailam reservoir, the process taking over 10 hours. This also constrained the movement of labourers and technicians to the project site during emergencies. Despite the tough terrain and weather conditions, MEIL completed the project by adhering to all environmental regulations,” he explained.

Purandhara Reddy of the state water resources department congratulated MEIL on the successful breakthrough. He said water would be released via the tunnels in the next irrigation season, benefitting lakhs of farmers. The department would continue partnering with expert agencies like MEIL to complete such critical projects on time, he stated.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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