Cracks on dam in Jodhpur district cause concern

Sunny Sebastian

JAIPUR: More than 12 persons are feared dead when the vehicle in which they were crossing a causeway at Ghata Hera in Aklera tehsil of Rajasthan’s Jhalawar district was washed away by flood waters from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh on Saturday. In Bilara tehsil of Jodhpur district, the Jaswant Sagar dam developed cracks after receiving 1500 mcft water after many years.

The causeway incident took place between 4 and 5 p.m. There were 30 persons, including women and children, in the jugad (make-shift vehicle). Ten persons swam to safety or were rescued by onlookers.

The jugad is a light vehicle, locally made by villagers in many parts of Rajasthan. Besides, the sudden rush of water took the occupants by surprise. Heavy rains during the past two days in Madhya Pradesh led to the flooding of the Chhappi River of which Ghata Hera is the drain. The Jhalawar Collector and the Superintendent of Police have rushed to the scene of accident.

Rajasthan continued to face the threat of floods in its western districts for the second day on Saturday. The cracks in the Jaswant Sagar dam continued to pose a serious threat to some 60-65 villages in Jodhpur, Pali and Barmer districts located downstream.

The Army has been called out to help civic authorities plug the cracks. Jawans were plugging the gaps and blasting the spillway to let more water flow down. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje made an aerial survey of the affected area and met officials at the Jodhpur airport to discuss contingency plans for evacuation in case the dam breaches. Chief Secretary D.C. Samant and Relief Secretary C.K. Mathew accompanied her. “People in the affected areas have been warned about the situation. The Army and the Air Force are standing by for any possible eventuality,” she told journalists in Jodhpur.

During the day there were rumours about the dam having been breached. The authorities denied this. “It is a 5-km long dam. It has two cracks now, on which they are working. If there is further rain then the condition of the dam is going to pose a serious problem. For the time being it is intact,” Mr. Mathew said.

Jaswant Sagar, built in 1889, was in a state of disrepair, as it had not been receiving water for many years.

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