Despite experts suggestion, Telangana government ignored dams safety

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Experts suggest building facility to divert from Srisailam foreshores.

Hyderabad: No concrete safety measures have been taken in six years at the Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar dams, despite the suggestions of expert teams after the unprecedented floods in the Krishna river between October 2 and 4, 2009.

A total of 25 lakh cusecs of water swamped the dams against their maximum flood discharge capacity of 12 lakh. The two dams, which function jointly to discharge flood water, suffered damage during the historic floods of October 2009, and require repairs. Study teams of engineers had suggested measures to prevent a catastrophe if a similar situation arose later.

“There is complacency on the part of both the governments in taking steps to prevent a recurrence of the catastrophe-like situation of 2009,” former Central Water Commission chairman M.S. Reddy told this newspaper.

“Solutions were offered by engineers, but I don’t think any of these were implemented,” said Mr Reddy, former Union secretary for water resources, who headed several teams on dam safety.

Mr Reddy said there was no official study on the pattern of the unprecedented floods of 2009 and how it was handled at Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar so as to suggest measures to strengthen the two dams, especially in the event of a dam burst.

He said Srisailam was a concrete dam without an earthen structure. There should be a solution like diverting floods from the foreshores so as to regulate the extent of water reaching the Srisailam crest gates, as and when it was more than its designed limits.

Nagarjunasagar, a masonry structure, has an earthen dam but there are no flood breaking points. These need to be created so that in the event of an unmanageable flood, the earthen dam could be demolished to save the spillway structure of the main dam.

According to officials at the Srisailam dam, now under control of the Andhra Pradesh government, a dam safety panel constituted by the Central Water Commission had made some suggestions after the 2009 floods but nothing concrete had been done.

A senior officer said they had sent proposals to the government to repair the dam and create a diversion point from Pamulapadu to Kundu river but there has been no action.

Mr Reddy said that as chairman of the dam safety panel for Nagarjunasagar, he had made certain suggestions after inspecting the structure last year. “So far, nothing has happened,” he said.

“Assuming a similar flood will occur in future and last for more than two days, how to manage it? Do they have an answer? I am surprised they are not being serious,” Mr Reddy said.

He said the governments should have studied the handling of the 2009 floods in depth and identified as to who was responsible for the non-functioning of the flood gates at Srisailam and what action was taken. “Suppose both the dams break, what would happen to people downstream? Is there any estimate,” he asked.

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