THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Some sections in the society blame dams for extreme events like August 2019 megaflood in the state, but dams as such do not cause floods, T Rajeshwari, additional secretary, Union Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, has said.
Speaking at the inaugural session of Kerala Floodcon 2020, a national conference organised by the state water resource department in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday, she said dams are infrastructure that need to be maintained properly and operated efficiently in accordance with standard rules to avoid disasters like flood. Around 80 per cent of the dams in the country are more than 25 years old and these may not be meeting the requirements of safe discharging of water, she said. Recognising this, the Government of India launched the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) in 2012 with financial assistance from World Bank.
“Under this scheme, Kerala has 53 dams that need to be rehabilitated. We should also take note that over the years, there has been a major shift in the monsoon pattern and there is a huge variability in terms of intensity of rainfall and its distribution temporarily and spatially. The challenge of climate change has further aggravated the situation. In Kerala, during the 2018 megaflood, the state witnessed 758 mm rainfall on August 19 against the previous highest on the same day of 288 mm,” she said.
Further, with the increase in population, there has been a tendency to occupy flood plains which has resulted in damage of more severity. “Therefore, the real challenge that we are now confronted with is water management and extreme climate conditions. The floods in Kerala during 2018 and 2019 point to this fact and we have to adopt resilient measures against these uncertain, extreme and devastating flooding. Similarly, the recurring phenomenon of flood in various parts of the country also stresses the need to follow high safety standards for dams to prevent failure that would cause devastating environmental and property damage and loss of lives,” she added.