Special Note III
‘Odisha Floods 2011’
Water Initiatives Odisha
How Hirakud floods are man-made?
Let me narrate the story of a woodcutter who was cutting the branch of a tree with an axe frommorning to evening for several days. One day, a person passers-by asked the woodcutter to show theaxe. The axe was blunt. He advised the woodcutter to get the axe sharpened. The woodcutter said,“I understand this. But my master says, if I go for sharpening the axe, who will do this work?” Thesituation is something like this in the field. People are busy in work and have no time to learn and give heed to this. They are working with out-dated knowledge. For this workshop, the master mind has played a role and hence we are meeting today.
This was said by the then Engineer-in-Chief, Water Resources, Govt. of Orissa in September2005
Dams are monsters. Even though these have been lifeline for the people of the civilization, from point of view of potential hazard, it is a monster, if not monitored for its proper health and ther is anoutburst, the entire Geography and History of area will be changed.
Said by Minister of State, Water Resources, during the above workshop in 2005.In fact, once dams are built, the safety and security of the people at the lower levels, during floods,becomes heavily dependent on the efficient management of the dam. As the Minister rightlypointed out, “Sometimes release from the dam makes their life miserable. Hence, the damauthorities are to operate the gates of the dam efficiently, in such a way that the life and property of the downstream people are safe.”
Has the Hirakud dam been properly managed? We don’t think so. The latest spell of floods this September last shows how.
The September Floods
September, as 10, 51,123 cusecs of water was entering into the 746 sq km reservoir, Asia’slongest earthen dam looked so small and helpless. The authorities, who virtually waited the waterto come to this unmanageable proportion, were forced to open 59 gates - 49 out of those opened ina span of 48 hours – only to be able to release 9,74,887 cusecs of water. At such a peak, when thedam’s safety comes to a stake and there is no other way available with the authorities than torelease the water which then goes on to devastate millions of people downstream. Weimmediately questioned this faulty way of managing the dam’s flood control operations as the
Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) is a state level coalition of civil society organisations, farmers, academia,media and other concerned, which has been working on water, environment and climate change issues inthe state for more than two decades now.