Construction of Thumbe vented dam on Nethravati is dogged by land acquisition worries

Thanks to flaws in planning and execution, the new vented dam across the Nethravati at Thumbe is more likely to remain ornamental, like a building that is ready but cannot be occupied. It is unlikely to serve the purpose for which it is being readied in the foreseeable future: impound more water to augment water supply to the city.

Though the dam may be ready in a few months the engineers are not even able to confirm whether it can pass the technical tests. They will not be in a position to test the efficacy of its electrically operated mechanical gates.

Land acquisition

The 12m-high dam is meant to hold water to a height of 7m. If water is to be stored till that level, 391 acres of land will be submerged. The hitch is that this land is neither in the hands of the Mangalore City Corporation (MCC) nor have steps been initiated to acquire the land. This includes 314 acres of private land and 77 acres of government land.

Besides the failure to initiate steps to acquire private land – a lengthy process – no funds have been reserved to pay compensation to land losers as yet.

No way to test

Consequently, there is no way to impound water and test the effectiveness and strength of the gates of the new dam when they are fully installed, according to sources in Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board (KUWSDB), which is building the dam for the MCC. It cannot issue quality certification to the contractor.

What complicates the matter for the civic body is that the Raitha Hitarakshana Vedike of Bantwal has opposed acquisition of any farm land for the project. Mangalore City South MLA J.R. Lobo said the project appeared to have been taken up without proper planning and added that he was yet to review its progress.