The breaches had resulted in unregulated water flows into Bangladesh

The Centre has ordered a probe into the causes behind the breaches in the gates of Farakka barrage on the Ganga. The broken gates resulted in unregulated water flows of about 47,000 cusecs — of which, about 15,000 cusecs was additional discharge — into neighbouring Bangladesh. Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal will visit the site on March 2 for spot assessment.

The Chairman of the Central Water Commission (CWC) will conduct the inquiry and submit a report within 15 days.

The decision comes close on the heels of the meeting of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, where she raised the issue.

Announcing this at a press conference here on Thursday, Mr. Bansal said the priority was to plug the breaches for which the CWC Member (Design and Research) had rushed to the spot.

The inquiry would be into the reasons for the breakage of the two gates and the delay in repairs. The CWC chairman would fix responsibility and suggest steps to ensure that there was no repeat of the incident.

Gate number 13 broke in June, while gate number 16 broke in December.

Now, all the 109 gates of the barrage that regulate flow of the Ganga and the level of water into the feeder canal will be changed.

The Farakka Barrage is about 37 years old and is maintained by the Union Ministry of Water Resources.

Sources said the maintenance of the barrage had been hampered because trade unions affiliated to various parties in West Bengal blocked government-appointed contractors from working. The unions wanted to corner maintenance contracts and laid down “impossible” conditions for working.

Under the Indo-Bangla Ganga Water Sharing Treaty, the water flows are regulated during the lean season from January to May. Because of the broken gates, the flows have been not been regulated during January and February.

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