IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Safety of Dams

7th January, 2022 Polity

Figure 1: No Copyright Infringement Intended


  • A new report from the Comptroller and Auditor's Office (CAG) in India warns that the Gandhi Sagar Dam on the Chambal River in Madhya Pradesh needs to be repaired urgently.

Main findings of the report

Dam problem:

  • Lack of proper control
  • Inoperable equipment: The Gandhi Sargardam was one of the few of the countries to be instrumented, but many of the instruments were not functioning for years.

On the borderline:

  • The Gandhi Sagar Dam was built in 1960 to supply drinking water to several districts of Rajasthan and generate 115 megawatts of electricity.
  • It has been broken several times in recent years, causing floods in the lower reaches.
  • Issue of Government agency: The Department of State Dam Safety Organization (SDSO) department responsible for maintenance does not comply with the recommendations of the Central Water Commission (CWC) and Dam Safety Inspection Pain (DSIP) on corrective actions.
  • Serious threat of the rainy season: Despite warnings and recommendations, the dam is "still very threatened during the rainy season.

Issues with Poor Quality of Dams

  • Challenge with an old dam Irregular rainfall: Indian dams are very old and were built according to rainfall patterns over the last few decades. Irregular rains in recent years have made them vulnerable, which is why these problems occur.

Implementation of the Act:

  • The Dam Safety Act 2021 passed in the Rajya Sabha with much fanfare earlier this month doesn`t elicit much hope.
  • The act will be implemented by current authorities. So, essentially the idea of accountability being fixed to change the scenario will hardly be addressed.
  • The act, thus, will not really be of much help Need of Dam Safety in India The country has over 5,200 large dams. While some dams are located in a state but are owned by some other state without any fixed responsibility for their maintenance.


Need for Dam Safety:

  • In addition to these dams, there are thousands of other small and medium-sized dams in the country.
  • Of the large reservoirs, 293 reservoirs are more than 100 years old and 1,041 reservoirs are more than 50 years old. Without a proper legal framework, the safety and maintenance of these numerous dams is a concern.
  • The Dam Safety Act of 2019 provides for the proper monitoring, inspection, operation and maintenance of all designated dams in the country.


Government efforts

  • Advice: CWC advised to restore equipment that failed five years ago.
  • Fundamental modern change: The body proposes to equip the dam with more equipment, such as a general gauge, a powerful motion accelerator for the dam to check the impact of an earthquake, and six research subjects. Did.
  • Funding: Rupees 1.35 was approved in July 2019 to complete the recommended instrumentation and repairs. However, the department did not begin resuscitation of equipment or purification of drains until 2019.
  • State-of-the-art information systems: The government has equipped dams with information systems such as precipitation warnings, flood warnings, and emergency response plans to avoid all types of failures.
  • Dam Safety Law: Recently, Rajasaba passed the groundbreaking Dam Safety Bill (2019), paving the way for the domestic dam safety law to be passed.

Way ahead:

  • New Technological criteria need to be developed for current and future dams.
  • Dam MIS including dam security audit and dam registration online database.
  • Acquire technology and distribute dam safety to state governments / organizations.
  • Research on dam failure, research on glacial collapse, preparation of emergency action plans Monitor the implementation of dam safety legislation Technology upgrades for efficient repair of sick dams Established by law, state and central dam security services