Row surfaces over flood water management in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: At a time when Odisha is on the brink of facing moderate flood, controversy surfaced over management of flood water in Hirakud Reservoir.

As per the rule curve (a flood water management tool); as on July 21, the water level in Hirakud dam should have been 592 feet. But questions are now being raised after reports that the water level was higher by at least by 25 feet than the rule curve norm.

However, Chief engineer of State Flood Control Cell, Purna Chandra Sahoo on Monday stated that there would have been a major flood in Mahanadi basin had the rule curve norm been followed.

“In the last 2 to 3 days the water level of Hirakud has increased by 20 feet. If we would have gone by the rule curve and in addition to water from Tel and upper catchment areas, then 12 lakh cusecs would have flown into Mahanadi by this time,” said Sahoo.

Harish Behera, former engineer-in-chief of Water Resource Department too echoed similar views. He said that at times decisions are taken beyond the rule curve norms.

“We are bound to deviate as it is judicious and not mandatory. As water level in Hirakud is at 615 feet currently, till it reaches 625 feet there is no reason to be apprehensive,” said Behera.

Official sources said six districts of Odisha have been put on alert in view of plans to release excess water from Hirakud reservoir. The gates of the dam will be opened tomorrow.

The six districts that have been put on alert include Cuttack, Jajpur, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Khurda and Puri, informed Special Relief Commissioner, Bishnupada Sethi.

“By the time water from Hirakud reaches Munduli, water from Tel River and rainwater would have cleared. We are trying to maintain a water level of 6 lakh cusecs in Cuttack,” said Water Resources Secretary, Pradip Jena.