Dam water rule may be revised

The state government is considering revising the rule curve (a set of guidelines) to regulate water in the Hirakud dam, official sources said on Saturday. A technical committee, constituted in the wake of alleged mismanagement of Hirakud reservoir waters leading to massive flood in the Mahanadi river in September 2011, has recommended to the state water resources department to make changes in the rule curve, which was last revised in 1988, sources said. The rule curve is a graph of water levels that is kept in mind while regulating dam waters.

“We are of the view that the rule curve should be revised keeping in view the rainfall patterns, siltation and other factors,” engineer-in-chief (water resources) P K Rout, who heads the technical panel. “We would soon refer to the Central Water Commission (CWC) to give its opinion in the matter,” he added.

The committee was formed last year on the recommendation of Governor M C Bhandare to inquire into the alleged irregularities in handling of Hirakud waters that caused the deluge in Mahanadi and its tributaries in September. A section of the civil society had also raised objections to the manner in which the water of Hirakud was managed and sought that the rule curve be revisited. The Opposition Congress and BJP had described the flood as “manmade” and demanded a CWC probe into the alleged wrongs in regulating the inflow and outflow of water into Hirakud, resulting in the flood.

In an attempt to avoid any such controversy this year, senior engineers of Odisha and Chhattisgarh discussed about water management in Mahanadi at Burla in Sambalpur on Friday. “We requested our Chhattisgarh counterparts to share with us information on release of water from their dams and reports of their rain gauge stations on the upstream of Mahanadi in quick time so that we could make our preparations. They agreed to do so,” said engineer-in-chief (planning and design) Baidhar Panda, who headed the Odisha delegation. “As Mahanadi originates in Chhattisgarh and a major part of its flows in that state, we are dependent on information from our neighbouring state to control flood in our side,” he added.

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