None can predict natural disaster: Officials

Baglihar, Dulhasti and Salal dam authorities have claimed that they have taken all disaster management precautions, the dams are safe and there is no danger to them even as the local population has raised eyebrows following the disaster in Uttarakhand.

“We have a Disaster Management Plan in coordination with the District Administration and police to meet any challenge posed with the breach of dam. We have also conducted mock drills to check readiness to meet the natural disaster,” said a senior functionary in Baglihar Power Project in Ramban District.

He said that they have made the design of the dam so huge that it can control 16000 cusec. “We had a maximum flood of 5800 in 2006 in which one bridge was damaged. However, there was no damage to the dam.” The officer said that the Baglihar Dam can face earthquakes approximately more than 8.9 on Richter-scale and Dulhasti upto 8.

The officer said, “We are observing full alertness and safety measures. However, no one can predict natural disaster and if something happens at Dulhasti Hydrometric Project first – which is managed by NHPC – in that case we will have limited time to take all emergency steps and launch immediate rescue operations to evacuate people living downstream besides informing the authorities in all the districts.”

In J&K, the situation is different from Uttarakhand, the senior officer added, while explaining that “in case of cloud bursts/avalanche, it would first damage NHPC’s Dulhasti power project and we will have 3 hours to take all emergency measures. Its impact could be upto Reasi, Akhnoor and across the border.”

To make sure that such a situation is dealt with timely, he said, “We have a Disaster Management Control Room with all contact numbers of the officials from Ramban, Doda, and Reasi and other districts. In case of emergency, the Chief Engineer Electrical will be the First Controlling Authority to take over the charge and in case, First Controlling Authority is not available, second in command will automatically take over the charge.”

Explaining the level of alertness being observed in managing the Baglihar hydroelectric project, he said: “Central Electricity Authority (Central Water Commission) regularly conducts impact analyses in case the dam is breached and accordingly the plans are made to meet any contingency.”

He said that on Chenab River, they have three existing dams i.e., 390 MW Dulhasri in Kishtwar, 900 MW Baglihar Doda – Ramban and 690 Salal (NHPC) in Reasi, while several others are under construction.

He said that they normally inform local authorities alerting the people not to come close to the Chenab River on particular days when they open water gates to avoid any damage to the dam to manage water level increases.

A senior NHPC officer who manages Dulhasti Power Project, said: “There is nothing to worry. The dam is safe. If some natural disaster hits, firstly it will damage Keru, Kirthai, and others which are under construction.”

690 MW Salal Dam also known as Salal Hydroelectric Power Station is a run-of-the-river hydropower project on the Chenab River in the Reasi district.

“No cloud burst has ever taken place in the Salal area. The dam is safe and there is no need to panic. The impact of flood reduces when it spreads to other areas,” a top ranking official of NHPC said in reference to the Salal Hydropower Project.

“At least 10 to 12 families are still illegally occupying the houses close to the Chenab Valley for which they have taken compensation from the authorities in Pul-Doda. All these people have put their lives at risk by living close to the river despite several warnings. We have also written to the Deputy Commissioner Doda about them,” said an official, while informing that the reservoir of Baglihar Dam extends upto Pul-Doda.

Officials in Doda said that these 12 families will be rehabilitated at Parihot area, 4 km away from Pul-Doda for which the process of land identification has been completed.

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