BHUBANESWAR: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has pulled up the Hirakud Dam authorities for not adhering to the State Water Policy, Flood Management Manual as well as forecasts of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and Central Water Commission (CWC) resulting in severe floods in the lower basin of Mahanadi river in 2011.
The 2017 Report of CAG placed in Parliament on Friday maintained that the IMD made repeated forecasts of heavy rains in Chhattisgarh, upstream of Mahanadi river and also the downstream areas from August 24, 2011 to September 9, 2011. The CWC informed about heavy quantum of inflow of water to the Hirakud reservoir during the period.Despite the warnings, the dam authorities maintained the water level above the lower limit of rule curve which was 590 feet for the period. Besides, it was noticed that adequate number of sluice gates were not opened during the period before the forecast.
The dam has 98 sluice gates. According to the CAG, on September 1, 2011, seven sluice gates and three crest gates were opened though the water level in the reservoir was 624.5 feet. Similarly, 13 sluice and five crest gates were opened on September 4, 2011 when the water level was 624.97 feet.But on September 9, 2011, when the water level was 628.5 feet, 55 sluice and four crest gates were opened which caused flood in the downstream areas of Hirakud dam, the CAG said and added that loss of property was assessed at `2000 crore in 13 districts due to the flood which lasted three days.
Similarly, dam authorities did not maintain the rule curve level of 590 feet in the reservoir in August, 2014 and raised it to 628 feet due to heavy rain in both upstream and downstream areas of Mahanadi during the first week of August. Subsequently, 50 gates of the dam were opened which caused heavy discharge of water resulting in flooding in the lower basin of Mahanadi.
Responding to the queries from CAG, the dam authorities stated that keeping in view the rainfall and runoff pattern, it was decided to keep the reservoir level at 600 feet to meet water requirement for irrigation and power.However, according to Odisha State Water Policy 2007, flood control should be given overriding consideration in the reservoir regulation policy even at the cost of sacrificing some irrigation and power benefits in highly flood-prone areas.