Questions being raised about possible floods in downstream areas

Rising water level in Tehri dam has caused possible flood threat in downstream areas.

According to a resident Sanjeev Sharma, in 2010 water level in the reservoir crossed the permissible level and many areas, including the Triveni Ghat in Rishikesh, Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar got submerged in water. Many villages in Haridwar’s Laksar belt got severely affected as the agricultural land and houses were damaged by the river water.

Himanshu Thakkar of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (SANDRP), said, “looking at the data trend in the past month it seems as though the Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC) is preparing to repeat the disaster the Tehri dam created in 2010.”

Till August 2010 the permissible Full Reservoir Limit (FRL) of the dam was 820 m. This limit was reached on August 27, 2010. According to Mr. Thakkar, the level in the reservoir reached 830 m on September 19, 2010 and the Ganga at Haridwar reached the highest flood level of 296.3 m. The level in the Tehri dam reached 831.45 m on October 22, 2010.

An article published in SANDRP in the year 2010 states that other than ‘creating avoidable disaster in the downstream area, the sudden release of huge quantity of water from the Tehri dam by the THDC submerged the hydropower machines, including transformers of the under construction 400 MW Koteshwar dam’.

According to the NRLDC data, between June 15 and 18 when heavy rainfall flooded the rivers in the State, water level in the Tehri dam reservoir increased by about 29 m and reached 776.8 m on June 18.

Vimal Bhai, a member of Matu Jan Sangathan, an organisation working on dam related issues said, “the THDC authorities claim to have saved the areas downstream of the dam from the probable flash floods in June; what about the present situation? Now that the reservoir is almost about to reach its permissible limit of 825 m will the dam not become a cause of floods in the downstream areas like Haridwar and Rishikesh?”

The THDC, the State government, the Union Ministry of Water Resources, the Central Water Commission and the National Disaster Management Authority must look into the issue and take the required steps towards saving the areas downstream of the dam from the probable floods in case of heavy rainfall in the area, Mr. Thakkar said.

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