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Chennai benefits from Sai Baba's initiative

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, NOV. 30. In January 2002, the Sathya Sai Baba announced that he would launch a project to solve Chennai's water shortage, promising to make available Rs. 200 crores for the project. The spadework to improve the Kandaleru-Poondi Canal carrying Krishna water to Chennai began soon after.

A few months later, the Andhra Pradesh Government gave permission to Sai Baba for carrying out the work independent of any Government involvement except for "supervision here and there." Larsen & Toubro carried out the project, which began in October 2002 and was completed by the end of 2003.

On November 27, when Krishna water reached Tamil Nadu within four days from the date of release (November 23), the benefits of the project became clearly apparent. Chennai was reaping the benefits of the improvement work carried out at Sai Baba's initiative - and not surprisingly, the waterway is called the Sathya Sai Ganga canal.

The realisation today at the Zero Point was about 480 cubic feet per second (cusecs), the highest since the commissioning of the Krishna Water Supply Project in 1996 with the rate of realisation rising substantially.

A senior official of the Tamil Nadu Public Works Department points out that on three occasions — October 2000, January 2001 and October 2002 — the Andhra Pradesh authorities, on a trial basis, released 1,100 cusecs from Kandaleru dam, the terminal storage point in the neighbouring State which feeds the supply to Chennai. Not even 40 per cent of the water released reached the border with Tamil Nadu, lying at the 152-km point of the Kandaleru-Poondi Canal. The receipt was about 440 cusecs.

"This time, the discharge from Kandaleru is 1,000 cusecs and are getting 483 cusecs," the official said, adding that the Sathya Sai Baba's initiative had made a big difference.

"Thanks to Sai Baba, the canal has been lined for a length of 65 km. Other improvements have also been carried out. Today, they have shown wonderful results," says C.H. Vijaya Kumar Reddy, Andhra Pradesh's chief engineer in charge of the Krishna Water Supply Project.

K. Kondal Rao, engineer-expert attached to the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, nodal agency for the project, said that bund strengthening works were done at Kandaleru to increase the storage. Further, "escape structures" were constructed at three places along the canal to ensure the discharge of excess water from the canal. "All these works have ensured quicker realisation and more flow of Krishna water to Chennai. Earlier, it took more than 10 days for the water to reach Tamil Nadu. This time, it was just four days."

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