Kanuru Lakshmana Rao (15 July 1902 – 18 May 1986) was an Indian engineer and a Padma Bhushan awardee who served as the Union Minister of Irrigation & Power and Member of Parliament for Vijayawada from 1962 to 1977.
Rao was born in a middle class brahmin farmer family in Kankipadu, Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh. His father was a village attorney. He lost his father when he was nine years old. He lost vision in one eye due to injury during childhood days while playing at school. He studied Intermediate (+2) at Presidency College, Madras. He took his B.E. degree from Madras University and he was the first student from Madras University to obtain a master's degree in engineering. Later he took his Ph.D. in 1939 from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.
In 1963, Rao was awarded the Padma Bhushan for his contribution in the spheres of irrigation and power. He had been president of the Central Board of Irrigation and Power and of the All India Engineers Association in 1958-59 and 1959-1960. He was vice-president of International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (Asia) in 1957-61 and in 1961-65. He was awarded a doctorate in science by Andhra University in 1960. He was also awarded doctorate by the Roorkee University in engineering in 1968.
He worked as a Professor in Rangoon and Burma. After completing PHD he worked as Assistant Professor in the United Kingdom. He wrote a book called Structural Engineering and Reinforced Concrete. After returning to India, he worked as a design engineer for the Madras government. He held the post of Director (Designs) in Vidyut Commission-New Delhi in 1950. He was promoted as chief engineer in 1954.
He wrote autobiography titled The Cusecs Candidate.
He was elected as a member of parliament from Vijayawada constituency for the first time in 1961. He was elected as member of parliament three times from the Vijayawada constituency. On 20 July 1963, Rao was sworn in as a minister for Irrigation and Electricity in the union government. Under his regime as union minister for water resources, Rao designed many irrigation and hydro-electric projects. Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, the world's longest masonry dam on River Krishna in Nalgonda District of Telangana is to his credit. Rao worked as union minister in Jawahar Lal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Sastry and Indira Gandhi's cabinet.
In 2006, the Pulichintala project, at Bellamkonda of Guntur district, has been named as K. L. Rao Sagar project.