Dams · Floods · Hydropower · Krishna River · Western Ghats

Breaching Historic Flood Levels many times over: Aftermath of Ghataprabha Floods 2019

Photo-blog 2

On the 8th August 2019, Krishna River itself and several of its tributaries in Maharashtra as well as Karnataka crossed their Highest Flood Levels at multiple places to set new records. Nowhere is it more stark than in Gokak Falls on the River Ghataprabha in Belgaum District of Karnataka. At Gokak Falls, the Highest Flood Level of the river was more than 553 meters and exceeded the earlier record by more than 5 meters! (For More Details: https://sandrp.in/2019/08/12/krishna-basin-floods-in-karnataka-the-role-of-dams/)

Abhay Kanvinde visited Gokak Falls, Hidkal Dam and villages along the Ghataprabha and Hiranyakeshi Rivers in Karnataka to understand and photo-document the impact of raging water levels on communities and ecosystems. Some interesting facts were thrown up in this trip. Mainly that 2019 Flood levels exceeded not only the 2005 and 2006 levels, but even the historic 1914 Flood levels, which are carefully marked by the British at Gokak Hydropower Station.

Management of Hidkal and Dudpal Dams, part of the Ghataprabha Irrigation project upstream of Gokak Falls has played a major role in increasing the extent of floods and damages. Hidkal Dam was already 96% full on the 6th of August, when Monsoon was not even half way through. This entirely violated the Rule Curve of the dam as well as Karnataka Government’s Reservoir Operation Guidelines of Hidkal Dam. This led to a situation where dam releases coincided with excessive rainfall in the region, adding massive amounts of water in the river channel below, destroying several settlements, home and fields along the Ghataprabha.

A look at the aftermath of an epic flood: parts natural, part man-made.

Abhay talks with a worker from one of the oldest Hydropower plants in the country, the 3.5 MW Gokak Hydroelectric Project set up by the British in 1887 to supply power to Forbes Gokak Spinning Mill, now Gokak Textiles. The plant still supplies power to the mill and is situated right at the foot of the Gokak Falls. In 1914, the British painstakingly marked the highest flood level reached at the plant. This level was never exceeded, even by the 2005 floods. But as the worker explains, 2019 Flood level was at least 4 feet above 1914 levels. 2019 levels were higher at least than 105-year flood levels! (Video: Abhay Kanvinde)


Near Ancient Gokak Small Hydroelectric Project, just below Gokak Falls, British marked Historic Flood levels of 5th Aug 1914  which were never exceeded till date. On the 8th Aug 2019, Floods broke this level by more than four feet. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde

Ghataprabha River at Gokak Falls, where it crossed historic water for several days in August 2019 Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Homes damaged by Hiranyakeshi River in Goudawad, Karnataka Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Homes damaged by Hiranyakeshi River in Goudawad, Karnataka Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Destruction by Ghataprabha in Gokak Town Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Above: Destruction by Hiranyakeshi in Goudawad Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Destruction by Ghataprabha in Gokak Town . A cat looks on from the rubble. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Ghataprabha downstream Hidkal Barrage Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Gokak Falls on Ghataprabha River where the historic flood levels were exceeded by over 5 meters for several days Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Cement viewing platform of Gokak Falls razed by Ghataprabha River Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Above: Ghataprabha swept over villages just downstream Hidkal Dam Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Siddhalingeshwar Temple at Badakundri, Goudawad showing levels of floods. 2019 is the highest till date, 1983 levels are marked higher than 2005 flood level Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Siddhalingeshwar Temple at Badakundri, Goudawad showing impact of floods.  Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Youth showing water levels on Siddhalingeshwar Temple, Goudawad Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Hidkal Dam Backwaters in first week of September Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Destruction in Gokak Town Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Looking for shelter from Ghataprabha Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Destruction wrought by Ghataprabha River in Gokak Towns, downstream Ghataprabha Irrigation Project Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Subdued Ghataprabha which had touched the walking bridge in Gokak during Aug floods Photo: Abhay Kanvinde

Mr. Santosh from Mahalingeshwar Temple at Gokak Falls shows the water levels and what they did Video: Abhay Kanvinde

Gokak Hydroelectric Project at Gokak Falls, Ghataprabha River Video by Abhay Kanvinde

~SANDRP (parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com)

NOTE: For the other three photo blogs in this series, see:

  1. https://sandrp.in/2019/10/02/homes-in-deluge-aftermath-of-maharashtra-floods-2019/
  2. https://sandrp.in/2019/10/04/impacts-on-cropland-2019-maharashtra-floods/
  3. https://sandrp.in/2019/10/10/sangli-and-narsoba-wadi-painted-red-with-record-flood-levels/

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