Ratnagiri dam breach: Flooding causes 44% of dam failures in India

Tiware Dam in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district breached, flooded seven villages and swept away 20 people on July 2, 2019

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 03 July 2019
Photo: Google Earth

Tiware dam in Ratnagiri breached late July 2, 2019 night flooding seven villages and swept away 20 people, according to local media reports.

Maharashtra is under a devastating spell of rains, even though it’s limited to a few patches and vast areas are under drought-like conditions.

The threat of floods and damages to public life and property are becoming an annual affair.

The Tuesday incident brings into focus a less talked about cause of major dam breach: floods caused by extreme rain events.

According to the Central Water Commission that hosts the Central Dam Safety Organisation, breaching due to flooding led to the largest number of dam failures. Around 44 per cent of total reported dam failure cases are a result of breaching, like Tiware dam.

Maharashtra has 35 per cent of the country’s 5,202 dams, which is the highest among all states, according to Dam Safety Organization, Nashik.

However, it has comparatively safer records as far as dam-related disasters are concerned. The Maharashtra government has an elaborate procedure to ensure dam safety. It conducts a pre-monsoon inspection before May 15 every year.

Dam-ning floods

Roles of dams in causing floods due to failures, and by sudden release of water after holding it to extreme level have been under scanner of late.

In December 2018, the Dam Safety Bill was presented in Parliament. It is yet to be passed.  The National Water Policy, 2002 envisaged enactment of Dam Safety Legislation to ensure proper inspection, maintenance and surveillance of existing dams.

A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report in 2017, of the 17 states and Union territories selected for audit, only Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu had carried out the pre- and post-monsoon inspection of the dams while three states had only done it partially.

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