Water level of Hirakud dam drops as Chhattisgarh shuts barrage gates

Bhubaneswar: Odisha might face severe crisis due to drop in the water level of Hirakud dam as Chhattisgarh government has already started throttling the water flow of Mahanadi River through its number of barrages.

Though none of the gates of the barrages in Chhattisgarh were closed during the last inspection by a team from Odisha led by Hirakud dam’s chief engineer on September 30, the neighbouring state has now started to regulate the water flow.

Official sources said Chhattisgarh government has now closed 18 gates out of 45 of the Kalama barrage while only six gates out of 81 of Mironi barrage are now open.

All the 45 gates of Samoda barrage have now been closed by Chhattisgarh following which there has been a drop in the water flow to Hirakud dam.

It is not for the first time that Chhattisgarh has resorted to such ‘arbitrary’ move as earlier it had released water downstream without informing Odisha government following heavy downpour during the monsoon season. This had triggered flood-like situation in several parts of Odisha.

“At present 12,000 cusecs of water is entering the dam and 16,000 cusecs of water is being released for the power channel and irrigation facilities. The water level of the dam stands now stands at 629.39 ft,” said Hirakud dam’s chief engineer, Jyotirmayee Rath.

Official sources said nearly 39,000 cusecs of water was entering into Hirakud by this time last year against 15,000 cusecs this year.

Rath further informed that though more rain was expected following low pressure on September 27, it did not happen. Besides, the closure of gates by Chhattisgarh could possibly create problems in Odisha during the non-monsoon period.

“We had earlier asked Chhattisgarh EIC not to close gates of any barrages, but nothing was done in this regard. We will again hold discussions with the senior officials in this regard,” Rath added.

Former engineer-in-chief of Odisha Water Resources department, Ramesh Tripathy said that throttling of water will certainly affect power generation besides it will also aggravate problems in irrigation in the State.

“If Chhattisgarh starts regulating water, it will certainly create problems for Odisha during the non-monsoon period. The State government needs to think what should be done in the downstream of Mahanadi,” said Tripathy.

It is pertinent to mention here that Odisha and Chhattisgarh are at loggerheads over Mahanadi water and the matter is subjudice before the Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal.

Though the tribunal’s first hearing was scheduled to be held on September 29, it was postponed till the second week of October.

On the other hand, Chhattisgarh’s water resources minister Brijmohan Agarwal denied the allegations of stopping of water.

“All our barrages are full due to good rainfall in the monsoon period and there is no question of blocking water,” said Agarwal in an exclusive interview to OTV.