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World’s largest lift irrigation project one step closer to full operations

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Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Limited (MEIL) has announced a major milestone in the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP), which is touted as the largest of its kind in the world.

The engineering company has commenced operations in the Laximpur underground pumping station (LUPS), which completed a wet run earlier in August. The pump house, which is named after the goddess Gayatri, was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Indian state Telangana, K. Chandrashekar Rao.

Located in Telangana in south India, the LUPS will enable the storage of water in reservoirs in the Godavari River Belt throughout the year for use during dry periods. The pump house is reportedly the world’s largest underground pumping station, constructed 470 feet below the Earth’s surgace.

"This is an extraordinary underground pump house, 470 feet below the ground with twin tunnels and the largest surge pools in the world,” explained B. Srinivas Reddy, director of MEIL. “This is an ultra-mega project in the world, having seven motors, each having a capacity of 139 MW. These motors can lift three TMC [three thousand million cubic feet] of water per day. This is the true example of 'Make in India' as these gigantic motors are developed in the country with the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) technology.

“The most significant feature of KLIP is that it completed the construction of electrical infrastructure with 3,057 MW capacity that comprises six 400 kV and 220 kV substations, transformers and 260 kilometres of transmission lines, seven kilometres of 400 kV XLPE [cross-linked polyethylene] underground cable. In any parameters, this project is the world's most innovative mega project. And the credit goes to MEIL for accomplishing this gigantic task."

Generally, pump houses for lift irrigation projects are built at ground level near river banks, allowing water to be pumped to a higher elevation. However, this unique structure – the first of its kind in the world – is built below ground, with a pumping capacity of 2 TMC of water per day.

The pump house consists of twin tunnels built side-by-side, which measure 4,133m long with a diameter of 10m. As each motor requires 139 MW of power to operate, a 160 kVA capacity pump transformer, together with compressor units, has been installed.

To ensure uninterrupted pumping, three surge pools have been built to store sufficient levels of water. Turbine pumps have also been constructed at a depth of 138m below ground, which is yet another unique feature of this project. Each motor pump weighs approximately 2,376 metric tonnes, with the units being referred to as ‘giant motors’.

"We feel honoured to be a part of Telangana's dream project and the world's biggest lift irrigation project, the KLIP,” Reddy added. “It has been a privilege and a lifetime opportunity to execute with world-class technology by coordinating with the world's best engineering suppliers and realising the water dreams of Telangana. The Chief Minister Mr. K Chandrashekhar Rao's determination, continuous supervision, consultations and his encouragement to project site engineers enabled us to complete the project in time.”