‘Faulty dam mgmt led to floods’

Pandurang Mhaske
Monday, 12 August 2019

According to a report, the worst flooding situation in three districts of the State this year is the result of failure in dam management by the authorities. They failed to release water from dams, which led to heavy floods in Kolhapur, Sangli and parts of Satara districts, says the report. 

Mumbai: According to a report, the worst flooding situation in three districts of the State this year is the result of failure in dam management by the authorities. They failed to release water from dams, which led to heavy floods in Kolhapur, Sangli and parts of Satara districts, says the report. 

South Asian Networks on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), an organisation working on rivers and dams has come up with a report complied by Himanshu Thakkar and Parineeta Dandekar, which states that the dams in these three districts started releasing a large quantity of water which played a major role in creating the flood. The report on the floods in Krishna basin says that failure in dam management is behind the flooding in the State. 

The situation in Kolhapur, Sangli and parts of Satara district is worse than the flood of August 2005. At eight sites, the water level has crossed the previous Highest Flood Level (HFL) recorded by Central Water Commission (CWC) at 4 sites in Maharashtra and 4 in Karnataka. 

The situation changed in just three days, as there was high rainfall in Upper Krishna Basin, which includes districts of Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara. In these three districts, the rainfall, as per IMD’s figures, till 8:30 am on August 8 was 2,068.5 mm (70 pc above normal), 480.7 mm (60 pc above normal) and 1,028.1 mm (78 pc above normal) respectively. 

Between August 1 and 8, the rainfall in these three districts was 716.6, 177.6 and 363.6 mm respectively. The rainfall is 400 pc above normal in this first week of August. But this is not such an unprecedented high rainfall that cannot be managed without allowing it to create a disaster. The high rainfall was distributed over eight days and was preceded by warning of high rainfall. 

However, in the same period when these districts were getting high rainfall, the dams in these districts started releasing large quantities of water. The dam operators are likely to say that the dams were full and they had no option but to release water. The question is why were the dams full and monsoon is just about halfway through and IMD has predicted higher rainfall in the remaining part of the monsoon compared to the first half? 

The big dams in this region, namely Koyna, Radhanagari and Warana were almost 100 pc full by August 5, when the current flood wave started. The flood disaster coincided with the dams getting full. If the dams were full by August 5, then why did the dams not start releasing water from July 25, when Koyna and Warana dams were only 50 pc full. 

The report said Radhanagri dam should have started releasing water earlier as that dam was close to 80 pc full by July 25. If these dams had started releasing water from July 25, they would have had sufficient space during the first week of August. 

The other dams in the Krishna basin show a similar trend with Ujani (89.8 pc), Khadakwasla (95.73 pc), Dhom (88.43pc), Dudhganga (89.28 pc) full as on August 6. In downstream Karnataka too, the story is same with Ghataprabha (95 pc), Malprabha (92 pc), Almatti (70 pc). Almatti has reduced the storage level from 85 pc on August 1. However, why was it allowed to fill up to 85 pc on August 1, asks the report. 

The State government set up a committee after the August 2005 floods, but the report of that committee remains secret till date. 

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