August 28, 2016 4:26:05 am
Dismissing suggestions that Bihar floods were a direct result of mismanagement in releasing water from Bansagar dam near Rewa, the Madhya Pradesh government Saturday said the dam had actually prevented greater destruction in the immediate downstream areas by holding back water for a few days.
Radheshyam Julaniya, Principal Secretary in Madhya Pradesh Water Resources Department, told The Indian Express that the manner in which water was discharged from Bansagar dam was necessitated by the timing and amount of rainfall in the catchment areas and downstream.
“Around August 15, Rewa and some other nearby towns were flooded. Single-storey houses were almost entirely submerged in some areas. Water from these areas flows to the towns and villages that are downstream the dam, not in the catchment areas. If we had released water on those days, a few days earlier than we actually did, it would have created havoc. Villages would have been washed away. The highways would have been flooded and broken. We had no option but to hold back water in the reservoir, even as the levels increased, till the point the reservoir was almost filled up. But in these two or three days, a lot of water from the downstream areas flowed out, so it was relatively safer to release water,” Julaniya said.
Bansagar dam, a multi-purpose irrigation-cum-hydroelectric project about 50 km south of Rewa in northeastern Madhya Pradesh, released large volumes of water between August 18 and 20, which is being said to be the main reason for floods in Bihar. The dam is on Sone river that flows through eastern Uttar Pradesh and south Bihar before meeting Ganga at Patna. Officials in Delhi had suggested that if water from Bansagar had been released in a phase-wise manner, the situation in Bihar would have been much better.
But Julaniya said the choice was between bad and worse, and the state government had taken all steps to ensure that the impact of release of water was minimum. “Normal procedures are in place to inform state governments in downstream areas about release of water and that was done a few days in advance. Both Bihar and Jharkhand were informed. I personally spoke to the Principal Secretary in Bihar government who happens to be my batchmate. We told them that we are holding back water for a few days, but after that we will release water. This was the best case scenario in that situation,” he said.
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