Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 050922: Corruption in Large Dams & pro dam media Mughals

(Feature Image: Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada river. Source: Central Water Commission 30.08.2022)

As this article on corruption in large dams in India shows, it is open secret that large dams involve massive corruption, kickbacks and political funding. But the politicians from PM downwards across the party lines have understandably no interest in this issue.

But unfortunately, the large dams-corruption is not limited to politicians. The corruption in various forms plague even the media Mughals like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyer and Shekhar Gupta, both known for their fundamentalist pro dam views. They too have no  interest in corruption in large dams. In fact some of them have no qualms accepting sponsorships of dam contractors for their media awards! They are however, ever ready to criticize Narmada Bachao Andolan and Medha Patkar, though they have no clue about the issues they are talking about and keep using some flawed study whose reply (by Nandini Oza and Shripad Dharmadhikary) is already out in public domain. It is interesting that they have launched this fresh attack on dam critics just when Gujarat Chief Minister and country’s Home Minister have also launched attack on the NBA. Neither Gujarat CM, PM or HM is replying as to why Kutch, the main justification for Gujarat getting disproportionate share of Narmada waters, were the last to get their share of the water (even now not fully as the canal distribution system is still incomplete), almost two decades after the water rich Central Gujarat started getting Narmada waters. Nor are the pro dam media Mughals bothered about this.

Continue reading DRP NB 050922: Corruption in Large Dams & pro dam media Mughals
Dam Disaster · Madhya Pradesh

Bharudpura Dam in MP faces disaster after first filling in Aug 2022

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.

Continue reading Bharudpura Dam in MP faces disaster after first filling in Aug 2022
Dam Disaster

MAJOR DISASTER AGAIN AT KOPILI DAM OF NEEPCO IN ASSAM IN 2022

The 275 MW Kopili Hydropower Dam of NEEPCO (a Union Power Ministry organisation, now under NTPC) has again faced a major disaster on Saturday, March 26, 2022. Earlier, the same project had suffered disaster in October 2019.[i]

The penstock pipe that takes water at high flow rates and speed from the Umrangso dam to the hydropower house burst during early hours of Saturday in Assam’s Dima Hasao (earlier called North Cachar Hill) district. A large portion of the Kopili Hydro Electric Plant was also inundated.[ii] At least three employees of the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (NEEPCO) who were present at the site were killed in the mishap.

Continue reading “MAJOR DISASTER AGAIN AT KOPILI DAM OF NEEPCO IN ASSAM IN 2022”
Dam Disaster · Dam Safety

Mahim Kelwa Dam leakage in Maharashtra: Another case of negligence

Heavy water leakage has been detected from the Mahim-Kelwa dam at Zanjroli in Palghar district, Maharashtra causing danger to a few villages situated downstream, officials said on Saturday, Jan 8, 2022.[i] A massive three-metre breach was detected on Saturday morning in a 41-year-old earthen dam with a 3.34 Million Cubic Meters capacity at Zanzorli in Palghar.[ii] About 1200 litres per minute was being discharged downstream.

Continue reading “Mahim Kelwa Dam leakage in Maharashtra: Another case of negligence”
DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 03 Jan 2022: Are we any safer from Dam Disasters?

In the 2021 year-end review by the Ministry of Jal Shakti (Ministry of Water Resources), the passage of the Dam Safety Bill by the parliament figures in headlines. The question is are we any safer from dam disasters due to this? If we take a quick review of the numerous dam disasters just this year and also look at the dam disasters mentioned in this Bulletin that happened just in the last week of the passing year, the answer is clear no. Such disasters include ones in Himachal Pradesh, Nepal and Brazil.

There is also the news here of the Uttarakhand agency report about the Feb 2021 Chamoli disaster, about which the official govt agency has said failure of Early Warning System was a factor in the disaster. The bigger disaster is that the state govt has promptly issued show cause notice to the authors of the paper blaming the lack of EWS!

Continue reading “DRP NB 03 Jan 2022: Are we any safer from Dam Disasters?”
Dam Safety

Uttarakhand: Aging Bhimtal Dam Raising Serious Safety Concerns

(Feature image: Arial view of Bhimtal Lake and dam. Source:- Postoast.com)

All is not well with Bhimtal dam in Nainital district, Uttarakhand. On March 8, 2021 morning, the fillers from its protection wall wobbled out. It sparked panic among local residents living near the largest lake of Kumaon region. For past couple of years they have been concerned about the structural safety of the aging dam. The 138 years old dam has already been in news for vertical cracks and recurring seepages.

Continue reading “Uttarakhand: Aging Bhimtal Dam Raising Serious Safety Concerns”
Dam Disaster

Durgapur Barrage on Damodar Damaged again: Its Dam Safety under World Bank-AIIB projects

Late on Friday (Oct 30 ,2020) night the gate no 31 of the Durgapur barrage suffered heavy damage, leading to emptying of the barrage and major disruption of the domestic, industrial and irrigation water supply. Shockingly, the Dam Safety aspects of the 65-year-old barrage on the border of Bankura-W Bardhaman districts of West Bengal[i] on Damodar river is under the World Bank and AIIB funded projects. This episode again[ii] puts a big question mark over credibility of the World Bank’s performance on dam safety issues in India, just a day after the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs headed by the Prime Minister cleared massive Rs 10211 Cr WB funded dam safety project[iii].

Continue reading “Durgapur Barrage on Damodar Damaged again: Its Dam Safety under World Bank-AIIB projects”
Dam Disaster · Floods · USA

Michigan Dam failures-2: FERC is also in the dock

A Sanford couple is taking on the federal government in general and FERC (Federal Electricity Regulatory Commission) in particular after they lost their lakefront home in May when the Sanford Dam was overwhelmed, causing major flooding. This is interesting since at the root of the dam disaster is the failure of FERC. For years, FERC kept humouring the dam owner, and tolerated its violations. Why it did that, when it could have taken much stronger action almost two decades back is a mystery. Hopefully, this case will help get it resolved. Continue reading “Michigan Dam failures-2: FERC is also in the dock”

Dam Disaster · USA

Michigan Dam failures: New Warnings for India’s Dam Safety

On Tuesday, May 19, 2020 evening following two days of heavy (4-7 inches) rains, Edinville Dam breached at 1740 and downstream Sanford dam overflowed at 1900 hours, leading to highest ever water level in downstream towns, leading to evacuation of over 10 000 people, besides massive damage, including to roads, bridges, buildings and crops. Both were earthen dams, Edinville dam famously did not have sufficient spillway capacity to pass even half the PMF (Probable Maximum Flood) it was expected to get. USA has much better dam safety situations legally, institutionally and practically that we in India have, and yet this happened where problems were known. As India awaits in the South West Monsoon 2020, there is lot we need to learn here and worry about our dams. Continue reading “Michigan Dam failures: New Warnings for India’s Dam Safety”

Dam Safety · Disasters

A tale of two dam breaches: Spencer (USA) and Tiware (India)

On March 14, 2019 the Spencer dam on Niobrara river, located south of Spencer in Nebraska state in USA breached, killing four people in the downstream. The Investigation Report about the disaster has been made public now on April 24, 2020. The remains of Spencer Dam — a skeleton of concrete and steel amid a sea of sand — became one of the iconic images of the March 2019 “bomb cyclone” flood that caused billions of dollars in damage across Nebraska.

Less than four months later, on July 2, 2019, Tiware dam breached[i] in Chiplun taluka of Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, killing 23 people. The then Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on July 6, 2019 announced a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe into the disaster, the SIT was to submit a report in two months, but the report was submitted in January 2020, but the report is not in public domain. When SANDRP talked with the chairman of the committee, he disclosed that the report has been submitted to the department in early Feb 2020 and it can only be made public by the department once they accept the report. He revealed that the SIT had found that there were issues with material of construction (masonry in place of Concrete) and design of the conduit of the dam. He agreed that the report should be made public promptly, but expressed his helplessness in face of the norms in India. SANDRP also called Secretary, Department of Water Conservation, Govt of Maharashtra, but got no response.

There is a lot to learn for us in India in comparing the two dam breach incidents and how both are treated.

Continue reading “A tale of two dam breaches: Spencer (USA) and Tiware (India)”