Dams turning floods into disasters: Sandrp

Dams turning floods into disasters: Sandrp

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All through the month of July, several states in India have been battling severe flood situation. The Northeastern (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam), Western (Rajasthan Gujarat), Central (Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh) and Eastern (Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal) regions have been particularly affected by floods following incessant rain.Till July 28, 2017, 293 people have succumbed to flood related accidents. As per govt sources, the economic cost of flood damages has reached 53894.634 lakh. http://www.ndmindia.nic.in/flood-2017/floodsJuly-2017.htm
Superficially water deluge seems a natural disaster occurring on annual basis. But a closer observation of flood monitoring mechanisms and scores of media reports reveal that most of the flood crisis is man-made and dams have been playing a bigger role in creating a disaster out of a natural phenomenon.
So far there have been more than a dozen reported incidents across India where breaching of aged or unmaintained dams has led to inundation of human habitation. On July 06, 2017 breaching of Shiv Sagar dam was such an incident causing severe floods in several villages in Mirzapur district, Uttar Pradesh. http://amritprabhat.com/mirzapur-mirzapur-floods-with-heavy-rain-dozens-of-houses-and-five-people-of-the-same-family-found-dead-body-of-two-shivsagar-dam-broke/
Similarly, there is information from reliable sources proving that the wrong operation of dams ends up creating flood situation in downstream areas which were already facing heavy rains. The devastating floods in Lakhimpur Assam around July 09, 2017, were a result of the release of huge amount of water from Ranganadi dam in Arunachal Pradesh. https://scroll.in/article/844509/severity-of-assam-floods-heightens-old-fears-about-dams-in-the-brahmaputra-basin
In one more similar and latest incident, an untimely release of water from Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), Jharkhand resulted in flood disaster in Birbhum, Purulia, West Medinipur and Hooghly districts. As per West Bengal Govt, the DVC officials discharged the around 2 lakhs cusec of water on 25 July 2017, from many dams built on Damodar river without intimating it. https://scroll.in/latest/845268/mamata-banerjee-blames-west-bengal-floods-on-centre-run-damodar-valley-corporation
The third dimension of the flood tragedy is the fact that responsible authorities like Central Water Commission (CWC), concerned state department have failed to issue a timely warning in so many incidences which could have otherwise been avoided or mitigated. There are also reports suggesting that there was no prior forecast and warning for ongoing floods in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Similarly, there have been dozens of incidents in different parts where flood situation has been either caused or aggravated by faulty dam operation, a breach in dams and lack of timely warning by responsible authorities.
The breach in Jaitpura dam and over spilling of Jawai dam in Jalor Rajasthan has inundated several villages. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/jawai-dam-pali-disrict-floods-rajasthan-heavy-rains-rescue-operations-ndrf-food-material/1/1012924.html The breach in Narmada canal has led to floods in Badmer districts. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/narmada-canal-damaged/articleshow/59762317.cms
The sudden discharge from Seepu dam on West Banas River, Dharoi dam on Sabarmati river has created severe flooding in downstream districts killing many villagers. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/aerial-survey-of-banas-river-to-be-undertaken-as-death-toll-in-gujarat-floods-touch-111-4768335/ , http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/gujarat-sabarmati-waters-flood-anand-villages/articleshow/59786379.cms
Further, the latest Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report only goes on reinforcing all these issues. The shocking report tells us that out of 4,862 large dams, emergency action plans or disaster management plans of only 349 (seven per cent) large dams had been prepared till March 2016. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/jul/22/huge-delay-in-completion-of-flood-control-projects-in-country-cag-1632017.html
In a similar development, another CAG report has put the onus on Hirakud dam officials for 2011 floods. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2017/jul/23/cag-puts-onus-on-hirakud-officials-for-2011-flood-1632412.html
The CAG has also presented a scathing indictment of India’s CWC’s shoddy flood forecasting system. https://www.dailypioneer.com/todays-newspaper/indias-flood-forecast-capability-a-washout-cag.html
The efficiency of flood monitoring can be judged from the fact that Irrigation Department Uttar Pradesh still relies on blade runners to convey flood information in the digital era. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/varanasi/in-e-age-runners-alert-officials-about-flash-floods/articleshow/59676066.cms
The DAM FLOOD sanction of this update is full of such reports proving that dams have turned the floods into disasters.
On the contrary, there have been many developments showing the Central, as well as State Governments in India, are not ready to learn any lesson from this and they continue to propose and build more dams.
First of all, there is a report that Assam Government wants to build 5000 KM stretch of embankment costing about 40,0000 crore rupees under Prime Minister’s special flood and erosion control program. The purpose of this embankment is to tame the Brahmaputra river. This is happening despite the fact that embankments not only have failed as means of flood protection but they have also been increasing flood related destruction. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/wGzS6QoEK2Ys3ZleWS2VKM/Assam-plans-5000km-embankment-along-Brahmaputra-river-to-cou.html
The Central Govt of India has been pushing the Pancheshwar dam on Mahakali river at India Nepal border amid growing concerns and objections. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/ngo-seeks-postpone-of-pancheshwar-dam-hearing/articleshow/59727412.cms Similarly, Renuka dam in Himachal and Lakhwar dam in Uttarakhand are pushed steadily in an ecologically fragile Himalayan region.
In the most disappointing development related to dams, the gates of Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada river have been closed without full and proper rehabilitation of displaced villagers. http://www.sify.com/news/sardar-sarovar-dam-displaced-villagers-stage-protest-news-national-rh5abkhecigca.html —- DRP News Bulletin, 31 July 2017

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