Safety of TS dams a big con­cern


The is­sue of dam safety is back in fo­cus with the Union Cab­i­net ap­prov­ing the Dam Safety Bill on Wednesday, which is likely to be in­tro­duced in the mon­soon ses­sion of Par­lia­ment.

In Te­lan­gana, the safety of dams is in ques­tion due to lack of main­te­nance for decades. As many as 14 dams in TS and two dams in AP were con­structed 50-100 years ago and re­quire ur­gent re­pairs. Once the Act is in force, state govern­ments are man­dated to en­sure that safety mea­sures for the dams are in place, or else the states will be pe­nalised.

In Septem­ber 2017, TS had sent pro­pos­als to the Cen­tral Wa­ter Com­mis­sion seek­ing `645 crore for re­ju­ve­na­tion of 29 old dams. The pro­pos­als were for­warded to the World Bank for fund­ing. As per in­struc­tions of ir­ri­ga­tion min­is­ter T. Har­ish Rao, Cen­tral De­signs Or­gan­i­sa­tion chief en­gi­neer A. Naren­der Reddy pre­pared a re­port but the funds are yet to be re­leased.

Na­gar­ju­nasagar and Sri­sailam dams wit­nessed un­prece­dented floods in the Kr­ishna river in Oc­to­ber 2009, but no con­crete safety mea­sures have been taken at these dams in the past eight years.

En­gi­neers had sug­gested mea­sures to pre­vent a catas­tro­phe if a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion arose later, but no ef­fort was made in this di­rec­tion.

In March 2017, the Cen­tre ad­mit­ted in the Lok Sabha that out of 5,247 large dams across the coun­try, 196 are over 100 years old and of these 72 are in south­ern states and Ma­ha­rash­tra. The Cen­tre said it will con­duct a ‘break anal­y­sis’ of these dams.

Break anal­y­sis is the ex­am­i­na­tion of dams to iden­tify po­ten­tial fail­ures that may re­sult if there is an un­con­trolled re­lease of wa­ter and in­volves the char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion of threats to pub­lic safety that a dam poses.

There are two safety is­sues, the risk of breach and floods, and lower abil­ity to hold as much wa­ter as the orig­i­nal ca­pac­ity (which means less live stor­age and per capita avail­abil­ity of wa­ter).

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