Wednesday, Sep 28, 2022

Madhya Pradesh: Under-Construction Dhar Dam Suffers Leakage, 18 Villages Evacuated

Around 200 Army personnel and three teams of the NDRF from Bhopal and Gujarat's Vadodara Surat are working to contain the leak.


The wall of an under-construction dam in Madhya Pradesh's Dhar district has been breached and water is seeping through, leading to the evacuation of 18 villages in the vicinity. 

Teams from the Indian Army, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have been deployed to contain the situation. 

Alarm bells were sounded when breach in the dam, being built on the Karam river, was first reported on Thursday afternoon. Dhar Collector Pankaj Jan said at the time that repair works were underway. Eleven villages downstream had been placed on alert.

However, as situation worsened over Friday, a total of 18 villages —12 in Dhar and six in Khargone— have been evacuated. 

"Efforts to control the seepage from the dam were unsuccessful. Since Friday morning, it has further increased and posed a threat to the security of the dam. Considering the gravity of the matter, we have directed people in 11 villages to leave their homes immediately and move to safer places," Dhar Collector Jain said on Friday.

Rains have been battering many parts of Madhya Pradesh, including Dhar, over the last few days. The reservoir of the dam was filling up with water for the first time this monsoon as it was under construction, the collector said.

Besides the deployment of Army, NDRF, and SDRF, two Two helicopters of the Indian Air Force (IAF) have been put on standby to deal with any emergency situation, officials said. 

The government said water is being safely drained out from the reservoir to reduce pressure on its wall.

The Opposition Congress raised a question mark over the quality of work of the dam and accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led state government of indulging in corruption in the project worth Rs 304 crore.

State Water Resources Minister Tulsi Silawat issued a statement on Saturday, saying that an army team has reached Dhar to deal with an emergency and the NDRF has also got down to work. He said the situation is under complete control and water from the dam is being drained out safely to reduce the pressure on the reservoir walls.

Silawat is at the dam site to monitor the situation, the release said.

The dam is coming up at a cost of Rs 304 crore, of which Rs 174 crore have been spent so far, official sources said.

Around 200 Army personnel, including engineers, and three teams of the NDRF from Bhopal as well as from Gujarat's Vadodara Surat have reached Dhar. Each team has around 30-35 members. Besides them, eight groups of the State Disaster Emergency Response Force (SDERF) are at work in Dhar, they said.

Two IAF helicopters have been placed on standby, Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) Home Dr Rajesh Rajora said in a statement.

The 590-meter-long and 52-meter-high dam, a medium-level irrigation project, has 15 million cubic meter (MCM) water in its reservoir, he said.

Apart from Silawat, Industries Minister Rajvardhan Singh Dattigaon is also at the dam site, officials said.

Talking to PTI, Congress MLA Dr Hiralal Alawa, who represents Manawar Assembly constituency in Dhar, alleged that a weak foundation of Rs 304 crore-worth dam was laid to make money and it has caused the water to leak.

"The feeble foundation couldn't withstand the pressure of water. The leak smacks of rampant corruption in dam construction which has put the lives of more than 26,000 people living downstream to danger," he added.

(With PTI inputs)