The fifth International Dam Safety Conference 2019 was inaugurated by state Water Resources Minister Niranjan Pujari and Union Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation Secretary UP Singh.
The two-day conference is being held under the aegis of the ongoing World Bank-assisted Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) as a part of institutional strengthening.
Over 725 delegates comprising of dam owners, policymakers, dam professionals, scientists and academia are participating in the conference. About 100 overseas experts from 30 countries representing all the major continents of the world are taking part in the event.
During the conference, three important national guidelines, 16 emergency action plans, and five operation and maintenance manuals will be released.
“About 80 per cent of our large dams are over 25 years old. About 209 dams are over 100 years old and were built in an era when design practices and safety considerations were much below the current design and safety norms. Several of these dams may be experiencing distress and are in need of attention for ensuring their structural safety and operational efficiency,” said Pujari.
The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has been taking various initiatives since late 1970s such as the establishment of Dam Safety Organisations in states.In the 1990s, a World Bank assisted DSRP project was launched to rehabilitate 183 distressed dams. In 2012, the Ministry initiated the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) with a duration of six years and financial outlay of Rs. 2100 crores.
Presently, DRIP covers rehabilitation of 198 large dam projects located in seven states namely Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and Uttarakhand. The government has revised the financial outlay to Rs 3466 crores and extended the duration by two years to complete the ongoing project activities.
In Odisha, 26 large dams are covered under DRIP for rehabilitation including construction of an additional spill way for the Hirakud dam to address the hydrological safety at about Rs 600 crores.
Dam Health and Rehabilitation Monitoring Application (DHARMA), a software tool for asset management has been developed to capture authentic data pertaining to all large dams to act as information repository. It covers the monitoring and health information to regularly review the safety aspects of any dam. This tool has the appropriate access to policymakers, project managers, and dam managers to review the information and take appropriate action.
The central government is striving to address the issue of dam safety in a comprehensive way for quite a long time. In this context, Union Cabinet approved the Dam Safety Bill in June 2018 and was introduced in the Parliament in December last year.
Considering the success of the ongoing DRIP, the central government proposed Phase-II and Phase-III of DRIP with a financial outlay of over Rs 10,221 crores to rehabilitate around 700 dams. The new project is proposed to be a state sector scheme with a 10-year duration, with each proposed phase of six years duration with two years overlapping.
The government has given in-principle approval to the project and will be funded by the World Bank. The project has wide spatial coverage, having 18 states and two central agencies, and covering about 13 per cent of large dams of India.
The basic objective of these annual events is to give exposure to non-DRIP states as well as other stakeholders across the country and world, to the best global practices and technological advancements to address the emerging dam safety challenges. (ANI)