Kerala government will start implementation of the World Bank-funded Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) from January next year.
The project, which aims at improving the safety and operational performance of selected structures, will cover 19 dams, barrages and regulators of the Irrigation Department and 12 projects of the State Electricity Board.
Chief Engineer (Investigation and Designs) of the Irrigation Department C. N. Sathi told The Hindu that the Department had sought release of Rs. 34 crore next year to take up the first phase of the project. The first phase would cover the Malampuzha, Walayar, Peechi and Neyyar dams. The Department was to take up the project in three phases over the next six years.
The total cost of the project would be Rs. 211.17 crore, of which nearly Rs. 100 crore is for hydel projects. The Bank will provide 80 per cent of the cost as loan. The balance is to be borne by the State government. The amount is to be repaid in 30 years after a grace period of five years.
The State Electricity Board is taking up rehabilitation and improvement of dams in two phases. The first phase will cover Sabarigiri, Sholayar, Poringalkuthu, Sengulam and Idukki projects. Work on Idamalayar, Pallivasal, Panniar, Neriamangalam, Kuttiyadi, Lower Periyar and Kakkad dams will be taken up in the second phase.
The project has mainly two components— comprehensive rehabilitation and improvement of dams and associated appurtenances and institutional strengthening for dam safety. The first will include hydrological assessments, preparation of asset management plans and emergency preparedness plans, development of emergency warning system, public awareness campaigns and flood plain mapping.
The government is planning computerised remote monitoring of the performance and stability of dams from the proposed headquarters of the dam safety authority here. Works would be carried out for strengthening and arresting of seepages and correction of alignments. New instrumentation for dam monitoring would also be set up and staff given training in ensuring dam safety. No capacity addition or modification of the spillways is planned under the project.
The second component aims at improving the effectiveness of the Irrigation Department and the Electricity Board in overseeing dam safety from the structural and operational point of view. Dam managers will be assisted with the development of appropriate skills and modern tools to adequately operate and maintain dams.
Some of the dams proposed to be rehabilitated by the Irrigation Department are the oldest masonry dams in the State. The Neyyar dam in Thiruvananthapuram district, for example, was constructed as back as in 1952. The Department has already done a dam break study of the dam as part of the project launch scheduled for January.
The Malampuzha dam was commissioned in 1955, and the Walayar dam in 1956. (Both are in Palakkad district.) The Peechi dam in Thrissur district was inaugurated in 1958. All these are straight gravity dams. (The Walayar dam has connecting earth dams).
The other irrigation structures proposed to be rehabilitated (in the second phase) are Chimoni, Kanjirapuzha, Kuttiyadi, Kallada and Bhoothathankettu dams and Pamba (Maniyar), Pazhassi and Moolathara barrages The third phase will cover Siruvani, Meenkara, Chulliyar, Pothundy, Vazhani, Mangalam and Malankara dams.
The project is part of a larger project covering a total of 223 dams in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Tamil Nadu besides Kerala. No dams with inter-State ramifications have been included in the project so as to avoid delays in implementation.