SAMBALPUR: Even though much is being said about gates closed in Kalma barrage in Chhattisgarh affecting the flow of water to Hirakud dam, the fact remains that the inflow of water has been the same in corresponding period in the past.
However, the challenges that remain are long term effect on the inflow once industries in Chhattisgarh draw water from these barrages which will even have a fallout on inflow of water during the monsoon. As per available data, at least eight industries are scheduled to draw 223.83 million cubic metre (MCM) besides water allocation for generation of 7800 MW hydel power from the Kalma barrage.
At present, the water level in the reservoir stands at 627.5 feet and the volume of water is 3.563 million acre feet with inflow of 3108 cusec. Taking the volume of water into consideration, there is enough water in Hirakud dam to tide over till next monsoon when flood and rain water is expected to flow into the dam. All that is needed is proper management of water, a fact even admitted by Assistant Engineer, Main Dam, Hirakud, Aswini Choudhury.
Although Water Resources Minister of Chhattisgarh Brijmohan Agrawal has refused the allegation of Odisha Government that Mahanadi is going dry with closure of the barrage gates, the latter has termed Agrawal as a ‘liar’ and the issue continues to hold the centre stage. However, there is no denying that management of barrage at Kalma, the last barrage upstream of Hirakud, will have a severe impact on inflow of water. While the State Government is planning to set up a gauge station on the downstream of Kalma to measure inflow of water, the Central Water Commission (CWC) has initiated construction of a Hydrological Observation Site and is operating a temporary office at Kalma village.
The water conflict was cropped up after Chhattisgarh Government constructed barrages across river Mahanadi and its tributaries within a radius of 100 kms from the border in Jharsuguda with barrage at Kalma being the first in the line from Odisha.
The barrage at Kalma has a storage capacity of 50.39 million cubic metre with full reservoir level of 197 metre and dead storage level of 192 metre. Out of 66 gates in the barrage, water is released through just one barrage. Confirmed sources in Hirakud Main Dam said the Kalma barrage has been placed for quite some time now.
They revealed that the Hydrological Observation Site being set up by CWC is part of a condition finalised during the meeting of the Chief Ministers of both the States on September 17 held in presence of Union Minister of Water Resources Uma Bharati. The situation is likely to aggravate once industries draw water from the barrage and water flow from the barrage will be constrained even during monsoon which will have a bearing on Hirakud Dam, they said.