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8 months after floods, Kerala dams lack emergency plan

It says EAP is the document to be used in case of emergencies generated by either a dam break or to a significantly high release of water from gated or ungated spillways.

Published: 18th April 2019 04:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th April 2019 04:57 AM   |  A+A-

Aerial photo of Kerala floods.

Aerial photo of Kerala floods. (Photo | PTI).

Express News Service

KOCHI: Eight months have passed since the floods devastated the state, claiming 433 lives and causing damage of more than Rs 40,000 crore.

Still, the state has not readied a comprehensive Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for its dams, despite it being mandatory as per the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for dealing with a crisis situation.

The Amicus Curiae, appointed by the High Court to assist it in flood-related petitions, had said in its report that none of the state’s dams had an EAP in place despite the NDMA’s directive to do so by 2009. 
Senior government officers blame the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) for this. They said the Board, which manages 33 dams in the state, has been dilly-dallying with the process of completing the EAP despite complaints that the floods were caused due to its poor dam management.

What’s an EAP?
The Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project’s portal (damsafety.in) says EAP is a “formal plan that identifies potential emergency conditions at a dam and prescribes the procedures to be followed to minimise loss of life and property damage.”

It adds: “An emergency in terms of dam operation is defined as a condition which develops unexpectedly, endangers the structural integrity of the dam and safety of lives and properties at the dam site as well as in areas downstream of the dam, and requires immediate responsive action.”

It says EAP is the document to be used in case of emergencies generated by either a dam break or to a significantly high release of water from gated or ungated spillways. 

“It identifies the roles and responsibility of the dam’s owner and of authorities in charge of managing 
emergency situations and evacuating people from low-lying areas downstream. It also specifies actions to be implemented in different emergency conditions,” says the portal.

KSEB’s version

KSEB chief engineer (DRIP and Dam Safety) Bibin Joseph said KSEB is in the process of finishing the EAP for all major dams and has conducted meetings with various stakeholders for the same.  “Though KSEB has been working for the same since 2017, there has been some delay in completing it because the Central Water Commission (CWC) didn’t accept the one prepared initially with the help of government engineering institutes like NIT-C,” he said. “In fact, CWC came out with modified guidelines for EAP in February last year. 



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