Bharudpura dam (also called Karam dam) on Karam river, a tributary of Narmada river, near Gujari village in Dharampuri Tehsil of Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh faced major disaster after the very first filling in August 2022 when there was seepage from and massive erosion of the dam wall starting from Aug 11, 2022. The disaster at the Rs 304.44 crore project whose construction started in 2018 created a major turbulence in Madhya Pradesh with allegations of sub-standard work, corruption and attempts to hush up the safety issues. As a precaution, the administration has on Aug 12, 2022 vacated 12 downstream villages in Dhar district and 6 in Khargone district[i] and stopped traffic on roads close to the dam[ii]. Dhar Collector also said that the efforts to stop the seepage were not successful and that possible reason for erosion is the use of black rather than red soil in the construction of the earthn dam.
The under construction dam is to affect eight villages[iii] due to submergence and has plans to irrigate 10500 ha land in 42 villages including 27 of Dharampuri, 7 of Umarban and 8 of Maheshwar Tehsil.[iv]. Even on Aug 13 afternoon, the seepage continued and state government was trying its best to save the dam wall from collapse by trying to drain out as much as water as possible. The Prime Minister, a report[v] says, has talked with the Chief Minister on the issue. Army, National and State Disaster Response Forces have been kept on the stand by in case of any emergency. The report also said that there is a crack in the dam, which was also shown on several youtube videos.
Earlier complaints of corruption and sub-standard work at the dam, both to CM helpline, to the WR dept and to the collector office were ignored[vi].[vii] The SDO of the water resources department SK Siddique tried to play down the issue by saying it is small amount of leakage and this is not big seepage. However, there were many demanding probe into the disaster.[viii]
Salient Features: Catchment area: 183.83 sq km; Dam length: 564/590 m; dam width: 6 m; Storage capacity: 43.98 MCM; 52 m high dam.
Earlier (March 12 2022)[ix] report said that 80% work on the Rs 99.86 Crore dam (Rs 305 Crore cost mentioned above is the total project cost, which includes canal infrastructure too; total expenditure till date is Rs 174 Cr) is 80% complete and it could be fully completed by June 2022. The project is being built by ANS Construction Private Limited.
It is shocking that the dam does not figure in the list of Central Water Commission (CWC)’s NRLD (National Register of Large Dams, 2019 edition available on CWC website, the latest version available). The dam should have been included there as the work on the dam started in 2018 and the details should have been included in the 2019 edition of 2019. [In fact CWC should have updated the NRLD after 2019.
This disaster also puts to test the Dam Safety Act passed by the parliament in 2021. Let us see how the act deals with the consequences of this disaster. As we said earlier, the Act does not include the under construction dams. It would be interesting to see also how the Act holds the CWC, MP govt and the dam contractor accountable for the disaster.
1. Aug 13 2022: The people in downstream areas are returning to their villages even as the risk of dam collapse remains. The authorities are not able to drain out the about 15 MCM water stored in the dam. They are trying to create channels for the same using earth moving machines as use of explosives could lead to collapse of dam wall. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/amid-dam-collapse-danger-in-madhya-pradesh-villagers-returning-home-3252580
2. Aug 14 2022: The defects in dam construction as reported by media:
- बांध की दीवार के निर्माण में जल्दबाजी में मिट्टी में पानी का अनुपात और उसे कम्पैक्ट करने में लापरवाही की गई है।
- नियमानुसार मिट्टी की 15 सेंटीमीटर तक लेयर को मेंटेन करना होता है। 1 मीटर में 6 से 7 लेयर होती है। इसे रोलर चलाकर मेंटेन किया जाता है। यहां ध्यान ही नहीं दिया गया।
- बांध की दीवार बनाते समय बीच में हर्टिंग जोन में काली मिट्टी डाली जाती है। जो मिट्टी को पकड़ कर रखती है। इससे पानी लीकेज नहीं होता। इसके बाद दोनों साइट केसिंग जोन में पत्थर वाली मुरम डाली जाती है। इसका भी ख्याल नहीं रखा गया लगता है।
- स्थानीय लोगों ने बांध की दीवार में मिट्टी में बड़े बड़े पत्थर डाल कर बनाने का का आरोप लगाया। निर्माणाधीन बांध में पानी रिसाव से इन आरोपों के सही होने की संभावना बढ़ाता है।
- बरसात के चलते 31 मई तक बांध निर्माण का काम पूरा होना था, लेकिन बांध बरसात शुरू होने के बाद भी निर्माणाधीन स्थिति में ही था। यानी विभग और एजेंसी की प्लानिंग में ही गड़बड़ी दिखती है।
- बांध निर्माण के काम में अधिकारियों के मॉनीटरिंग में उदासीनता बरती गई
- स्थानीय लोगों 40 हजार लोगों की जान जोखिम में होने की शिकायत पर तीन महीने गंभीरता बड़ा सवाल खड़ा करती हैं।
3. Attempt is being made to drain the dam by making a cut in the dam, failing which, the dam is being drained by releasing water from the leakage point.