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Breach raises questions about safety, maintenance of dam

Special Correspondent

Crane was not in working order even in 1992 when two gates were breached


  • It took officials over 10 hours to repair the crane after gate cracked on Thursday
  • By then it was too late to lower the emergency gate because of the force of the water
  • Lakhs being spent on maintenance of dam every year
  • Officials say breach can be plugged only when water-level comes down further
  • More than 6 tmcft of water has already been lost

    GULBARGA: The breach in one of the 30 gates of the Narayanpur Dam at the beginning of the irrigation season has raised serious questions about the manner in which officials in charge of the dam managed the crisis and their failure to ensure proper maintenance of the dam.

    This is not the first time such an incident has occurred. In 1992, while one gate buckled allowing water to escape from the sides, another developed leaks at the bottom and the sides. At that time too the crane required to lower the emergency gates was out of order.

    When the fifth gate of the dam cracked on Thursday the crane could not be used. It took more than 10 hours for the officials to repair the crane and move it to the damaged gate.

    Damage done

    However, by that time the damage had already been done and the emergency gate could not be lowered because of the force of the escaping water. There was every possibility of the emergency gate too being breached.

    Official sources said here on Friday that Water Resources Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge chaired a high-level meeting a month ago and issued directions to the officials concerned to ensure the maintenance of the dam and also its safety.

    According to information available here, the officials in charge of the dam did not carry out the mandatory maintenance checks.

    One redeeming feature is that the outflow from the dam at a rate of almost one lakh cusecs will not seriously hamper the irrigation plans for the current year, thanks to the heavy inflow into the Alamatti Dam, which acts as a balancing reservoir for the Narayanpur Dam. The storage in the Alamatti Dam is being maintained at 519.4 m as against its full level of 519.6 m. Even if the entire storage in the Narayanpur Dam is lost, water from the Alamatti Dam can make good the loss and ensure that farmers in the command area are provided with water for irrigation this year.

    However, the breach raises questions about the safety of the dam and the seriousness of the officials in charge in discharging their duties. Lakhs of rupees is set apart every year for the annual maintenance of the dam and its infrastructure.

    Storage capacity

    The Narayanpur Dam located between Bachihal Siddapur in Bijapur district and Hirejavur in Raichur district has a gross storage capacity of 37.646 tmcft. The live storage is 30.473 tmcft. The full reservoir level (FRL) is 492.252 m and the crest level is 480.252 m. The officials say that the emergency gate can be lowered only when the water-level comes down to 488 m, reducing the pressure on the gates.

    However, experts say that even at that level the pressure will be too high, and the emergency gate can be lowered only when the storage reaches the crest level of 480.252 m.

    More than 6 tmcft of water has already flowed through the breached gate.

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