In spite of the fact that two major rivers, the Godavari and the Krishna, are flowing across the state of Telangana in southern India, water availability for most parts of the state has been a major problem for many decades. The primary cause is elevation, since the land table in the state mainly lies in a range of 300 to 650 meters above the sea level, whereas the two rivers are only flowing at an elevation of 100 meters above sea level even during monsoon periods.
Although the government has made attempts over the years to alleviate the massive water shortages, the reality has been that abundant water availability has remained a distant dream for the people of Telangana. Now, however, the dream of having access to sufficient water to sustain a better life for many people is becoming a reality, as the gigantic Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation System has begun delivering water.
Sustainability is in fact a major reason for undertaking the KLIS project, since it gives millions of people markedly better means of both earning a living and producing the food needed to thrive. In the past, groundwater was almost nonexistent, drought was common, and farmers could at best get one crop rotation per year, versus 2 or 3 that might be possible if adequate water was available. Farmers were entirely dependent on favorable rains which often did not materialize, resulting in frequent crop failures. In addition, monsoon rain patterns have been impacted by climate change.
Quite simply, something had to be done, and the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation System was the solution
Already a positive impact for the people
The Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation System, which is the world's largest multi-stage lift irrigation project, is designed to end the water woes by directing a massive 5.5 billion cubic meters (or 195 billion cubic feet) of water annually to the parched areas of Telangana. The state is expecting that KLIS can therefore help transform Telangana into an agricultural powerhouse, enabling farmers to reap multiple crops with a year-round supply of water.
Since the KLIS started up in 2019, Telangana farmers have already seen big changes and delivered record crops of paddy and maize in spring 2020, thanks to better irrigation facilities and an extended monsoon.
Lifting millions of tons of water efficiently
A key feature of the KLIS project is a series of underground and surface water pumping stations, which are said to be the world’s largest such structures. Stretching over 300 km, the lift irrigation system raises large volumes of water up from river or reservoir sources, to be redistributed in channels and/or further reservoirs before pumping to the next stations.
To help accomplish this truly heavy lifting, ABB has supplied 37 medium voltage motors of both 40MW and 43MW sizes, 15 medium voltage load commutated inverter (LCI) drive units, the excitation systems, Low voltage and high voltage switchgears, the PLC based SCADA and other electricals to run the pumps.
Managing the enormous electrical systems
Powering these motors from a dead start to normal pumping speed requires huge amounts of electricity, potentially putting severe strain on both the mechanical systems and the local utility grid. ABB’s load commutated inverter (LCI) drive solution is designed to alleviate these issues by minimizing electrical stress and inrush current in the system. ABB MV switchgears provide further protection, stability and management in this massive operation.
Domain expertise plays key role
Anoop Anand, Local Division President – System Drives, for ABB’s Motion business area is very pleased that ABB is playing such a key role in this important irrigation and sustainability project. “The stringent timelines and large volume of on-site work involved were definitely challenging,” he explains. “But for ABB, as an engineering giant with proven technologies and track records from successful installations across the globe, delivering a world class product was not an issue. Our Indian and global teams worked seamlessly to ensure timely deliveries, taking proactive actions in the factories to de-bottleneck when needed. I should add, as you might imagine, movement of these heavy-weight consignments from the Indian Port to the project site was a project in itself.”
EPC highly satisfied with ABB support and solutions
The EPC for the project was MEIL (Megha Engineering & Infrastructures Ltd), of Hyderabad, India. Mr. Umamaheswara Reddy is MEIL’s Vice President and he has been very happy with ABB’s support.
“We have a long, continuing relation with ABB, which is our preferred vendor for large critical projects. Since Kaleshwaram is certainly a critical project, we have opted for ABB equipment and have got good support throughout the life cycle, from design to commissioning. Being a fast-track, high-visibility project, it did have its share of engineering and integration issues. MEIL, as the EPC, had responsibility for integrating equipment which did prove challenging at times. Thus, the support extended by ABB in mobilizing its global expertise to resolve issues when they arose in the Static Frequency Converter (SFC) equipment interface with pumps was highly appreciated.”
“Timely arrivals was another critically important aspect where our suppliers, especially ABB, ramped up production across their global supply chains to ensure we met our delivery commitments.”
Proud moment when water gushed onto parched fields
In the end, the project has been a big success, for the people of Telangana and for all parties involved in the construction and running of KLIS. ABB’s partner, MEIL, the highly competent EPC, company and in turn their customer the Telangana State Irrigation & CAD Department have all been very satisfied with ABB’s timely and successful equipment delivery, erection, testing and final commissioning to keep the project on the targeted timetable, and the precious water flowing reliably.
When asked what he is most proud of in this project, Mr. Reddy doesn’t hesitate for a second. “When we met our delivery commitments for lifting the water, and it then successfully gushed out to wet the parched fields, it was clear we had achieved superb project management under diverse, and sometimes adverse, conditions.”