THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Union Minister of State for Water Resources and River Management Arjun Ram Meghwal on Tuesday said the country needs more large dams for preserving water and meeting the demands of a larger population.
Though the country can create a total river water storage capacity of about 690 Billion Cubic Metres (BCM), it has only less than 300 BMC capacity. This shows there is a need for constructing much larger dams, he said while inaugurating the two-day International Dam Safety Conference-2018 here.
However, Meghwal said there was a need to give importance to the safety of dams. “There are dams that are centuries old. The construction of 447 dams is under way. Though we need bigger dams, the safety aspect has to be given importance,” he said and added the successful models in other countries could be adopted here.
He said the second phase of the on-going World Bank-aided Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) would be extended to 18 states. The total outlay of the project is `1,000 crore.
Sixteen states have already given the approval to be included in the second phase. In the first phase, DRIP has been envisaged for rehabilitation and improvement of about 223 dams in seven states at a cost of `2,100 crore. Kerala is also included in the first phase that was launched in 2012.
Power Minister M M Mani said importance has to be given to strengthening the existing dams in the state as there was strong protest against building new dams because of environmental issues. Most dams in the state are over 20 years old, he said.
He also mentioned water scarcity was not experienced in regions where dams were located in severe drought-like situation last year.
Water Resources Minister Mathew T Thomas pointed out the need to review the existing guidelines and norms for the safety of dams in the country. Stating the programmes taken up as part of DRIP programme would be completed in a time-bound manner, he said the state would submit more projects to be included in the second phase.
The event is jointly organised by Central Water Commission, Kerala Water Resources Department and Kerala State Electricity Board. Central Water Commission chairman S Masood Husain, World Bank lead dam specialist Satoru Ueda, president of International Commission of Large Dams Anton L Schleiss, Australian Water Partnership chief executive officer Nicholas Schofield are among the experts who are participating in the conference.