PRESS STATEMENT- Feb 15, 2012
Farakka barrage gates remain broken for eight months
Lethargy of Union Water Resources ministry leads to serious situationThe Farakka Barrage Project on the Ganga river is directly under the jurisdiction of Union Ministry of Water Resources, see: http://mowr.gov.in/index3.asp?subsublinkid=714&langid=1&sslid=296. Two of the 109 gates of the crucial barrage on the Ganga stand broken as per reliable sources from Central Water Commission. This means that the barrage authorities can no longer adequately regulate the flow and level of water into the feeder channel. This can have serious implications for lakhs of people in W Bengal as at least three corporations (Kolkata, Haora and Chandannagar) and many of the 38 other municipalities situated along the feeder channel depend on it for their water supply directly or indirectly. This becomes particularly crucial in lean season, which starts on January 1. In he lean season, if the feeder canal does not have adequate flow, there could be salinity ingress, which can affect the supply of freshwater to millions of people. It could also mean that during low tides, navigation along the canal becomes difficult due to low flows, as is already being experienced now. Even the power generation by NTPC at farakka has been affected. At least one of the gates (gate no 13) of the barrage was broken on June 26, 2011 and for almost eight months, the Water Resources Ministry has been unable to repair it.
Due to the mismanagement of the Union Water resources ministry, now the water supply to lakhs of people as also to the Kolkata port and also the biodiversity and groundwater in the deltaic areas have been put at serious risk. The navigation along the canal has already become difficult during low tides.
It may also be noted that the Indo Bangladesh Ganga water sharing treaty (see http://mowr.gov.in/index3.asp?subsublinkid=289&langid=1&sslid=371 for details) is basically effective for the lean season months of January to May as water flow in the river reduces substantially during this period. The regulation of the flow under the treaty is made possible by keeping the pond level at 22.9 m through the operation of gates on Farakka barrage. However, with two of the gates broken, the regulation would no longer be possible as required under the treaty. The West Bengal people would be the sufferers, and the W Bengal govt has now raised this issue with the Union Water Resources Ministry. This incident also underlines the need to make the representatives of people of W Bengal participant in the management of Farakka Barrage Project for the interests of transparency and accountability of the Union Ministry.
South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People, Delhi
email@example.com, www.sandrp.in, 09968242798