‘With 3,200 dams, Maharashtra at risk of Kerala-like floods’

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Thane : The devastation caused by the floods in Kerala could be a preview to a similar disaster in-waiting in several cities and town of Maharashtra, where a combination of heavy rains, poor dam management and builder-driven encroachments in the flood control line could lead to a repeat of July 26. 2005, experts claimed.

Maharashtra, with a total of 3.264 dams, could be highly vulnerable to devastating floods and cities like Mumbai, Thane and Nanded at risk due to the unchecked urbanisation and inept flood control measures.

“On the face of it, unstoppable rains is the primary cause for any floods. However, the underlying fact is it is a manmade disaster and a calamity of priorities?’ said Dr Sudhir Bhongle, an expert on water and flood management. Referring to the 2005 floods, he said, “The city was submerged because of multiple factors like poor coordination with the meteorology department on rainfall status, choked drains, lack of open spaces, unchecked growth in the flood control line, high tide and to top it all the opening of the gates of the overflowing Bhatsa, Middle Vaitarna, Barvi among others in Thane district:’

He said the water resources department’s tendency to keep storage levels high in case of poor rainfall contributes to the flooding in cities. “A study of the rain pattern reveals that in every 100 years there is 30 years of drought. In effect, in a fiveyear cycle we experience a twoyear dry spell. The water levels in dams should be stored after a thorough study of the rain pattern. However, in our case the dam reservoirs are in nearfull capacity in June-July and heavy rains fill it up fast. The dams are opened up when the neighbouring areas are brimming with rain water and it leads to a deluge?’ he added.

A water resources department official said poor dam management and lack of carry over facility (separate storage facility in reservoirs to meet any eventuality) has led to the tendency to store water even after the onset of monsoon. “Barring the Koyna dam, which has acarry-over facility of 10 TMC, no other dam in Maharashtra has such provision:’ he added.

Dr Bhongle said the government has been focusing on construction of large dams while ignoring the key aspect of dam management and taking up water-shed development programmes which will in the long run protect the cities from flooding and massive soil erosion. “The intensity and frequency of such floods could go up. The seawater levels are rising, the duration of hot climate is extended and the regulatory machinery is lax in checking the deforestation, killing of mangroves, encroaching on all open spaces. Nature has hit back from time to time but greed prevails:’ Dr Bhongle added.

Source : timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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