hirakud, one of the largest and the oldest dams in the country, has developed cracks. Its leaking walls may fall apart any time and sweep away the coastal delta of Puri and Cuttack. The Orissa government, however, is unfazed about the eventuality saying that there is "nothing to be alarmed about". This callous attitude persists despite three survey reports and a warning by the World Bank ( wb) that the heavily-silted thirty year-old dam is "one of the 25 unsafe dams of the world". Every monsoon forces the people of Sambalpur in the state to flee as heavy showers make the dam shake and leak under the pressure.
This year too, they have been left in the lurch by the state government even though there has been heavy rainfall at the upper catchment area of Mahanadi river in Madhya Pradesh along with heavy rains in Orissa. The three survey reports and the wb have over the past three decades underscored the need for an immediate desiltation drive to increase the storage capacity of the dam.