Monday, June 21, 2010


Notice from Union Ministry of Environment to AP State on Bungling of Polavaram dam 

(Published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary, Part-II, and Section 3, Sub-section (ii)
MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS   New Delhi 14th September, 2006)

At present there was a controversy on holding public hearing for embankments project estimated at Rs.700 crores as a supplementary project of the Polavaram dam.  The AP Chief Minister is declaring that AP State cannot hold this public hearing for their Polavaram project in Orissa and Chattisgarh.  The Orissa and Chattisgarh state Governments are refusing to hold public hearing on this project because they have filed cases in the supreme Court against the Polavaram dam and hence it may be subjudice.  But the Central Government Ministry of Environment and Forest issued a notice to the AP State Government why they are going ahead with the Polavaram dam project without holding public hearings on the embankments project in Orissa and Chattisgarh.  In the normal conditions the AP State Government should have maintained cordial relations with Orissa and Chattisgarh on this project for securing their approval for the main dam project and also this supplementary embankments project.  Similarly they require the consent of these upper states even for the 960 MW hydro-power project which is part of the Polavaram dam project.  Now the AP State Government has taken a posture of confrontation with the upper states and is demanding the Union Government to use its good offices to convince the upper states to the construction of Polvaram dam project estimated at Rs.16,000 crores. 
INTRODUCTION: AP state and central government experts deliberately ignored the standard procedures for estimating the spillway design flood and rendered the project design defective as already stated by Dr.KL Rao.  The experts failed to get their knowledge updated for using the state of art technology for Polavaram dam.
The Indian Standard IS : 11223 – 1985 “Guidelines for fixing spillway capacity” gives the criteria for inflow design flood as follows:
The dams may be classified according to size by using the hydraulic head (from normal or annual average flood level on the downstream to the maximum water level) and the gross storage behind the dam as given below. The overall size classification for the dam would be greater of that indicated by either of the following two parameters:

Floods of larger or smaller magnitude may be used if the hazard involved in the eventuality of a failure is particularly high or low. The relevant parameters to be considered in judging the hazard
in addition to the size would be:
(i) distance to and location of the human habitations on the downstream after considering the likely future developments.
(ii) Maximum hydraulic capacity of the downstream channel at a level at which catastrophic damage is not expected.
For more important projects, dam break studies may be done as an aid to the judgement in deciding whether PMF needs to be used. Where the studies or judgement indicate an imminent danger to present or future human settlements, the PMF should be used. Any departure from the general criteria as above on account of larger or smaller hazard should be clearly brought out and recorded.
Each site is individual in its local conditions and evaluation of cause and effects. While, therefore, the norms mentioned above may be taken as general guidelines, the criteria could be varied in special cases where the same are justifiable on account of local conditions and keeping in view the hazard potential. When a dam capable of impounding large quantity of water is constructed above an area having extensive community, industry and agriculture, a distinct hazard from a possible failure is created. The failure of a dam so located would have disastrous
effects. In addition to loss of life, loss to property, loss of revenue from the project, the deliberate acceptance of a calculated risk in the spillway design and free board would reduce the public confidence in the safety of similar structures.
The spillway capacities and free board allowances of such a dam should be adequate to insure against failure of the dam during the most severe flood or sequence of floods considered reasonably possible, irrespective of the apparent infrequency of occurrence of controlling conditions.
3.5.2 Experience data
In some cases where design data are lacking, an evaluation of overtopping potential may be based on watershed characteristics and rainfall and reservoir records. An estimate of the probable
maximum flood may also be developed from a conservative, generalized comparison of the drainage area, size and the magnitude of recently adopted probable maximum floods for dam sites in comparable hydrologic regions.
Where the review of such experience data indicates that the recommended spillway design flood would not cause overtopping, additional hydraulic and hydrologic determinations will be unnecessary. 
As per the standard procedures to be followed for ensuring safety of the dam the experts failed to implement even the ISI Standards and CWC guidelines as can be seen from the above matter.  For instance if the incremental increase in flood consequent to the dam failure is about 2ft. the project design has to be changed.  But in the case of Polavaram dam the incremental increase of flood due to dam break is exceedingly high than this limit and hence the project proponents have a responsibility to either change the location of the project to construct a dam at a place like Inchampalli or to construct only a diversion barrage at Polavaram to ensure the safety of the project and the lives and properties of people who will be killed in case of a dam burst due to extreme floods, earthquakes, construction defects or operation failures during cyclonic storms.

(See Horsetooth dam burst case-
-->-Make an indepth study of the dam break analysis report, including emergency action plans and economic costs to be presented in the environmental impact assessment report on similar lines for Polavaram dam project Unfortunately the Engineers did not prepare these relevant crucial reportsr rules cited under web site:
before taking even the partial first environmental clearence on 25-5-2005[dam-disaster management plans,EAP reports of CWC guidelines on dam safety]

Right fromthe beginning the Engineering experts of AP state Government and the Central WAter Commission have been knowingly committing grave mistakes in the design of he dam and in estimating the cost benefit ratios  on improper data.For instance the National Water Development Agency (See web site:see paras .      [see para 6.2.4]    [ see last paragraph]    [ see para 8.1 and 8.2]
indicates that while     Central Water Commission suggested for off take canal at    33.53 m 110ft elevation with a discharge point in Krishna basin at about  18.29 m 60ft,  the AP state Government for its own vested interests for increasing the elevation of the Polavaram dam on a large scale insisted on increasing the level of Polavaram at off take level of 40.23 m 133ft with a discharge point in river Krishna at an elevation of about 27.97 m   92ft.  
Moreover the Central Water Comission always considered Polavaram as a barrage structure for purposes of design flood and thereby accepted for spillway design a 500-year return flood of 36 lakhs cusecs while the CWC guidelines insist on considering for the size of Polavaram dam a Probable Maximum Flood or a 1000-year return flood for spillway design purposes.  
Moreover the NWDA website on Polavaram project clearly states under table 9.2 of the report under the Polavaram right canal out of 1,62,691ha of irrigable land area only 44,000 ha is unirrigated while the rest of the land is irrigated under different sources like canals, lift irrigation systems,borewells and village tanks.   Hence there is only about 1 lakh acres of land available to be irrigated by water from Polavaram dam while the claim is made for irrigating about 3 lakh acres under this right canal.  In fact independent experts have collected field data which shows that about 95% lands under the left polavaram canal is already irrigated and only 5% land may get benefitted by polavaram dam project.see the following web site:    [ see pages 65 and 66]
Similarly under the left canal of the Polavaram project while about 4 lakh acres is proposed to be irrigated with water from Polavaram dam about 2.5 lakh acres is already under irrigation under the lift irrigation schemes,canals, medium irrigation projects, borewells and village tanks with the result that only about 1.5 lakh acres can be fed by Godavari waters from Polavaram project.  If these two true facts are taken into conisideration the cost benefit analysis of Polavaram dam will be negative and there is no feasibility for taking up this project to promote national economy  and how can planning commission promote.such project that is  risky as also not economically viable but also verycostly, uneconomical and  detrimental to public interests

AP State Engineers misled AP Chief Minister to entered  into impracticable and illegal Interstate agreement with Madhya Pradesh and Orissa during August and December 1978 ( extract of para 100 and 102 of Bachawat Tribunal report of 1979:
Clause VIII(E) of the Agreement dated the 7th August, 1978 between Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra provides—
“(E) The state of Madhya Pradesh agrees subject to the State of Orissa agreeing for the construction of Polavaram project of the State of Andhra Pradesh so that the maximum submergence in Madhya Pradesh territory at Konta does not exceed R.L.+150ft due to all effects including backwater effect. The Polavaram project shall be designed for the maximum probable flood in consultation with the Central Water Commission so as not to exceed the limit of submergence mentioned above.”
Clause-II(I) of the Agreement between the states of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa dated the 15th December, 1978 provides-
“(I) The States of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh agree for the construction of Polavaram Project of the State of Andhra Pradesh, so that the maximum submersion in the State of Orissa territory at Motu/Konta does not exceed RL +150ft due to all effects including backwater effect. The Polavaram Project shall be designed for the maximum probable flood in consultation with the Central Water Commission so as not to exceed the limit of submergence mentioned above”.
CWC reminds AP State Engineers about their mistakes in drafting the agreement:
The Central Water Commission sent letter No.6/125/78-T.E/25, 12-2514, dated the 3rd July, 1979 to Andhra Pradesh Government, the material portion of which is as follows:
“It is seen from the project report that the State Government of Andhra Pradesh have proposed the Polavaram project for an FRL /MWL of +150ft. Therefore, prima facie, with MWL at Polavaram at RL +150ft. submergence due to all effects including that of backwater effect will always be more than RL +150ft. upstream and also at Konta. The State Government will no doubt be working out the backwater effects at Konta/Motu considering advance releases from Polavaram Dam. It is however seen that during the year, 1966 CWC had observed that a flood level at Konta had reached an RL 46.595m (RL +153ft). which is 0.875 m higher than RL 45.72m(RL 150ft) This is an observed flood whose frequency is expected to be high. For a flood at Konta corresponding to frequency the flood adopted for the Polavaram Dam (which will be between 1 in 500 years to 1 in 1000 years), the natural flood level at Konta should be expected to be substantially higher than RL +45.72m (RL +150ft.) It would thus be seen that the stipulation that a flood level at Konta/Motu should not rise above RL +150ft will not be practicable and that the agreements entered into by the States may have to be suitably modified. Perhaps this situation about observed flood level at Konta might not have been known to you and other states when this agreement was concluded.”
Central Water Commission,Hydrology (South) Directorate,on Floods Letter dt.13-2-2008
In the earlier studies, the project authorities proposed a design flood of 80,000 cumecs (36 lakh cusecs). These studies were based on flood frequency approach and the observed data for the period 1981-1995 was used to obtain flood of 500-year return period. Central Water Commission accepted this estimated flood of 80,000 cumecs in 1979. From the records, it is found that this flood was accepted when the structure proposed at the project location was a barrage. In the revised reports submitted earlier, same design flood i.e.80,000 cumecs has been recommended and no revised studies were carried out.
3) Experts of CWC and Sir Arthor Cotton recommend for a barrage and not a dam:
a) In his technical report on Dhowlaiswaram anicut (1847-52) Sir Arthor Cotton suggested that the construction of another anicut across Godavari river a few miles upstream of Dhowlaiswaram will be highly beneficial.
b) In his book on “Engineering works of Godavari Delta the British author, Mr.Walch mentioned in 1896 on the need for the construction of another anicut upstream of Dhowlaiswaram will be highly useful.
c) Dr.A.N./Khosla, Chairman, CWC in his “Report of the Technical Committee on Rivers Krishna, Godavari and Pennar” to the Government of India(1953) stated under Appendix-D (Note on the Diversion of Godavari waters to Krishna Basin, Page-101) submitted as follows: “The only other site where there is a possibility of diverting (water) supplies from the Godavari into Krishna river basin at Ramapadasagar where a dam or diversion barrage will be necessary for the purpose (Ramapadasagar dam was proposed at FRL +198ft (First stage) and by omitting the supplies for Guntur uplands, the water diversion from Godavari to Krishna works out to 142 TMC only). If Ramapadasagar dam is not built but a storage reservoir is constructed somewhere upstream either on the Godavari itself or some of its major tributaries and only a diversion barrage is built at the proposed Ramapada Sagar dam site, this quantity (of 142 TMC diversion) will remain unaffected”
d) In the report of the Krishna-Godavari Commission appointed by the Union Government headed by Mr.Gulhati, an eminent engineer, it is stated under paragraph-61 as follows: “A large part of the regulated flow available in the river Godavari from the power projects referred to above, which would amount to much more than 10 MAF would be surplus to the requirements of projects on the Godavari (the supplies available in the lower part of the Godavari basin , sub basins G.7 to G.12 are in excess of the demands) and can be diverted to the Krishna basin, to the extent these supplies can be utilized in that basin by the following two link canals:
i) A link canal from the Godavari at Polavaram to Vijayawada at a cost of about Rs.40 crores. This can transfer usefully about 211 TMC (4.8 MAF) of water to the Krishna .
ii) A link canal from the Godavari near Albaka or Singaraddi to Pulichintala on the Krishna at a cost of about Rs.40 crores. This link canal can transfer usefully about 95 TMC (2.2 MAF) of water to the Krishna.
These diversions, if executed, would call for modifications in some of the projects under execution and in some of those proposed.”
e) AP State Government published a report in 1961 on “Krishna-Godavari Waters-Optimum Economic Utilisation”. In paragraph 73 of the report, it is stated thus “The only practical scheme for diversion of Godavari waters to Krishna basin in the lower reaches is by construction of Inchampalli dam and Ramapadasagar barrage. By this it will be possible to divert waters at least cost…”
4) CWC ordered for change of Polavaram design in August 2006 by raising peak flood of 36 lakh cusecs based on 500-year return flood to 50 lakh cusecs But the inflow design flood of 60 lakh cusecs was estimated for polavaram by the National Institute of Hydrology for its Dm-break Analysis report of June,1999.This Technical Report was submitted to the A.P. State Government through the Environmental Protection Training and Research Institute, Hyderabad
5) Independent experts like Dr.K.L.Rao reviewed the Design criteria adopted for Polavaram dam and found that the spillway design is faulty with the result that the dam has more chances of failure. But such dam failure causes 50 lakh people down stream to be drowned under a wall of flood of 40 ft. or more. Dam burst may occur for one reason or other like extreme floods, earthquakes, construction defects and human failure. Andhras have witnessed such human failure as it had happened in case of Srisailam dam during the floods in October 2009. See figure 13 containing Indian express news paper report of 1-5-1983 in website
6) For 88,000 catchment of Narmada river, the peak observed flood in 1994 was 71,000 cumecs. But the Design flood of 1 in 1000 years was placed at 87,000 cumecs. Since the Godavari basin is adjacent to Narmada river basin,it is appropriate to apply similar standards for estimating the PMF at Polavaram site On this basis the PMF at Polavaram works out to about 85 lakhs cusecs.
7) For Nagarjuna Sagar dam 100-year flood observed was 10.4 lakh cusecs. But 1 in 1000 years flood was placed at 20.6 lakh cusecs. If this criteria is used for Polavaram, the peak flood with a return period of 1in 1000 tears works out to 66 lakhs cusecs and PMF works out to about 90 lakhs cusecs (Click on completed dams and go to Nagarjuna Sagar site for details)
8) (a) The peak flood that occurred during the past one hundred years in Krishna river at Srisailam dam site was 9.4 lakh cusecs. But the peak flood of 26 lakhs that occurred in October 2009 at Srisailam was 2.7 times the peak historical flood of the previous century. Extreme floods occurred in Krishna River valley due to incessant rains of high intensity caused by Global warming impacts. At the Srisailam site,the100 years- flood was 9.4 lakh cusecs. But due to environmental changes, deforestation and development activities the floods suddenly rose to 26.5 lakh cusecs. Experts were predicting that due to Land development, green house effect, global warming, increased intensity and duration of depressions and cyclones floods will increase by 20%..,+First+generation+floods&source=bl&ots=p0x2FM79wK&sig=V0upQOYJsKSgHZgc38BBlegudlo&hl=en&ei=JDwvTMmrJYmWrAfe28nzBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=L%20Berga%2C%20First%20generation%20floods&f=false
(b) If this proposition is extended to Godavari floods, the past century historical flood of 33 to 35 lakhs occurred in August 1986 and hence the potential peak flood in Godavari under similar conditions works out to 89 to 90 lakh cusecs. But this peak flood, PMF, is underestimated by the Expert Engineers of the AP State and the Central Water Commission and placed at 50 lakh cusecs only.
(c ) According to the calculations of the National Institute of Hydrology which is another wing of the Union Ministry of Water Resources, the inflow design flood for Polavaram is taken as 60 lakh cusecs on the basis of spillway design flood of 36 lakh cusecs. When the CWC has estimated natural peak flood of 50 lakh cusecs at Polavaram it is necessary to realize that the 194 TMC of reservoir standing water will get transformed into dynamic flood flow water of about 24 lakhs cusecs making the outflow as 74 lakhs cusecs which will certainly over flow the flood banks of Godavari down stream of Polavaram in the case of a dam burst. Consequently, the rockfill Earthen dam proposed at Polavaram is bound to collapse and kill 50 lakhs of people downstream in Godavari Delta. Hence Polavaram dam should be replaced by the Three barrages project as proposed by the former Engineer-in-Chief, Sri.T.Hanumantha Rao.
9) (a) When a case was filed against Polavaram Dam in Orissa High Court , the Court gave a judgement in March 2006 directing that as a result of Polavaram project, there shall not be any submersion of lands and villages and displacement of people in Orissa. The Union government accepted this High Court Order and directed AP State Government to make this condition as an addendum to the Environment clearance letter given for Polavaram on 25-10-2005.
(b) To fulfil this condition imposed by the Orissa High Court,the AP State proposed to build 30 km embankments of 10 to 15m depth on the banks of Sabari and Sileru rivers in Chattisgarh and Orissa. When the AP State requested the Union Ministry of Environment for clearance of this supplementary Polavaram project, the AP State was directed to obtain the consent of Orissa and Chattisgarh state Governments who refused the consent and filed cases against the project in the Supreme Court. Orissa is asking for reduction in the height of Polavaram project. But A.P. State wants to go ahead with Polavaram dam project. So commonly acceptable solution lies in modifying the Polavaram dam into barrages. A.P.State Government failed to get consent of Orissa for Janjhawati and Vamsadhara projects since more than 20 years. Hence serious attempts must be made to get the Polavaram project modified suitably to get it materialized as early as possible to supply water to the farmers.
10) (a) The Central Electricity Authority(CEA) has returned the Detailed Project Report to AP State Government for obtaining hydrological clearance on the availability of sufficient water in Godavari for producing 960 MW of Hydro-Power. Since the present dam project is not acceptable, it needs to be modified suitably to get the clearance of CEA to implement the project and it will be possible for CEA to give clearance for the project only with the consent of the upper states and the courts.
(b)For securing the Environmental clearance for the embankments project which is supplementary to Polavaram project and also clearance from CEA authority for the Polavaram hydro power plant projects. Fresh EIA and EMP reports have to be prepared on the basis of peak flood of 50 lakh cusecs and Emergency Action Plan has to be prepared as per the guidelines formulated by the dam safety organization of the Central Water Commission in May 2006 and the details of this comprehensive 48 page EAP report can be seen from the website.


For aligning the Polavaram - Vijayawada Link Canal, three alternatives have been
studied by various organisations as detailed in the following paras:
(i) The CWC proposed alignment of the canal as a contour canal with anoff take level at
33.53 m (110 ft.) and outfall level at 18.29 m having a length of 202 km. FRL can be limited to 115ft. thereby reducing the height of the proposed dam by 30ft. and this will be most probably acceptable both for Orissa and Chattisgarh states and thereby the interstate problems on Polavaram project can be avoided.
(ii) The NWDA has studied another alignment as a contour canal with an off take level of 36.58 m and tail end level (into Budameru diversion channel) of 20.63 m with 180 km length..
(iii) AP state proposed Right Main Canal with off take level of 40.23m and tail end level of 27.97 m with a length of 174 km. This alignment which is designed as an unlined as well as lined canal out falls into Budameru near Velagaleru regulator and then, the waters flow through the Budameru diversion channel.
In view of more command area under the canal due to higher off take level, the AP state proposed this Link Canal. The alignment has been selected on the following criteria:
(i) To have maximum command area (for the purpose of which a flatter bed slope of 1 in
20000 is considered).
(ii) To cross minimum number of streams by aqueducts.
(iii) To run the canal in Budameru diversion channel as far as possible.
(iv) To avoid interference with the villages and tank beds en route.
Beyond RD 162.500 km, two alternatives were examined, one directly falling into Krishna river just upstream of the Prakasam barrage and the other falling into Budameru river upstream of the existing regulator near Velagaleru. The former alignment was not found feasible mainly in view of the following:
(i) The alignment is passing through Vijayawada Urban Development Area where there
is mounting pressure for land with many developmental activities taking place rapidly
in and around, besides formation of canal through costly lands.
(ii) The alignment has to cross Budameru where a costly structure would be necessary.
(iii) The alignment has also to cross railway line and National Highway involving
construction of costly structures.
Obviously on account of the above mentioned reasons the choice was to adopt the present alignment, out falling into Budameru river on upstream of the existing Velagaleru regulator. The water meant for diversion into Krishna river will then pass through the Budameru diversion channel and join Krishna river at about 8 km upstream of the Prakasam barrage. The Budameru diversion channel has been constructed by the State Government to carry flood discharge of 425 cumec (15000 cusec), which is sufficient to carry the waters from the Polavaram - Vijayawada link whose design discharge at its outfall in the Budameru is only 250.52 cumec. This aspect is dealt with in detail in Chapter on Hydrology and Chapter on Structure and Layout.
But some experts find that the alignment proposal by the AP state is not realistic. If the canal alignment is taken up with FRL at 35.53m (110ft) as suggested by CWC it has to be realigned. So that it passes through Vijayawada Thermal Power Station and the city to join the Krishna river. This alignment does not require the construction of a risky dam at Polavaram and a barrage will serve the purpose eventhough the canal passes through valuable lands of Vijayawada yet it will be economical.

a) Statutory Proforma for Environmental Clearance for Polavaram:
Basic Environmental clearance is very wrong due to non-application of minds of Experts of AP State, CWC and Union Ministry of Water Resources and Environment.
Even by 25-10-2005 when the first Environmental clearance for Polavaram dam was granted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Experts of AP State and Union Government organizations utterly failed to take cognisance of the following crucial factors that govern the decisions to clear the Polavaram project.
For obtaining such environmental clearances the dam proponents have to prepare the dam safety report including the dam break analysis, risk assessment and Emergency preparedness plans as specified under the rules of Environmental Protect Act and also the dam safety guidelines as presented below.
(i) Environmental clearance - crucial requirements under the proforma:
As per the above website of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests the project authorities must submit an application for Environmental clearance for irrigation, industrial or other projects as specified under schedule-I.
As per the EIA notification dt.27-1-1994 as amended upto 13-12-2000 Environmental clearance requires the project authorities to submit application in the proforma speicified in Schedule-II, accompanied by a project report which shall include an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, a DisasterManagement Plan (DMP or Emergency Action Plan, EAP ) and  an Environmental Management Plan and details of public hearing as specified by the Central Government. This application form specified under the Schedule includes preparation of reports for the following items also under the different serial numbers specified below:
10) (a) Number of Villages and population to be displaced
(b) Rehabilitation Master Plan
11) Risk Assessment Report and Disaster Management Plan
12) (a) Environemntal Impact Assessment (EIA)
(b) Environmental Management Plan (EMP)
(c) Detailed feasibility Report
-->Duly filled in questionnaire
13) Details of Environmental Management Cell 

-->   (May 2006 guidelines by CWC on EAP/DMP)
Dams store large amount of water. Uncontrolled or excessive release of such a huge amount of water has great potential for loss of life and damage to property in the downstream areas due to excessive flooding. Such situations can occur due to several reasons, such as, breach of dam on account of earthquake, landslide and/or sabotage; excessive release of water on account of extreme storm events, etc. It is, therefore, necessary to have a thorough and consistent planning for any such eventuality to help save lives and reduce property damage in areas that would be affected by dam failure or operation and putting in place action plans to cope with such an emergency.
It is exactly for this reason that Ministry of Environment & Forest through its Notification No.SO 60(E) dated 27-01-1994 on Environment (Protection) Rules 1986 has made Disaster Management Plan or Emergency Action Plan a mandatory requirement for obtaining statutory environmental clearance for all river valley projects.
An Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is a formal document that identifies potential emergency conditions at a dam and specifies preplanned actions to be followed to minimize property damage and loss of life. The EAP specifies actions the dam owner should take to moderate or alleviate the problems at the dam site as well as in the areas downstream of the dam. It contains procedures and information to assist the dam owner in issuing early warning and notification messages to responsible emergency management authorities, viz., District Magistrate / Collector, Armed forces, Paramilitary forces, Project Authorities and other Central/ State Agencies. It also contains inundation maps to show the emergency management authorities of the critical areas for ecessary relief and rescue actions in case of an emergency.
In India, there are about 4050 completed large dams and another 475 are under construction (as per National Register of Large Dams – 2002).
Emergency Action Plans are, however, not available for any of the completed large dams. The National Water Policy, 2002 recognizing this deficiency has stressed for preparation of EAP for all large dams.
ii) Violation of dam safety guidelines of CWC perhaps results in failure of Polavaram dam:
Due to the catastrophic failure of Teton Dam and other dams all over the World,ICOLD organised an international workshop on Dam Safety at New Delhi and recommended to all the countries to promote dam safety. consequently,Government of India established a Dam Safety Organisation in the Central Water commission in 1979 and formulated guide lines on Dam safety in public interest for implementation by all the state Governments.:For detailed information on the role of Union Government water Resources Ministry to get Dam Break analysis Reports for major Dams, See pages 32,33 and 34 on the web site:
The guidelines on dam safety sent by the Central Water Commission to the state Governments in 1986 includes an item on Emergency Preparedness Plans as can be seen from the website: [see item 9 on page 11 ]
If necessary, please copy the web site and use GOOGLE search engine to get at the correct information
The details to be furnished under the Emergency Preparedness Plans as per World Bank guidelines can be seen from the Website:
For the convenience of the reader the Emergency Preparedness Plans prepared under the Dam Safety Act, 1972 [U.S.A] including the inundation maps prepared for each of the dams in California is presented in the following website:
As an example for indian engineers to take necessary action to make Dam Break Analysis,Risk assessment and Disaster management plans as contemplated by the Union Ministry of Environment and forests and the Union Ministry of Water resources uder the rules,regulations and guidelines formulated in tune with the international standards on Dam safety and environmental protection,the case study of HORSE TOOTH RESERVOIR in Colorado,USA is presented as can be seen from the web sites: :
(iii) Dam-Break Analysis For Polavaram Rock-Fill Dam
If the dam break analysis and risk assessment is made alternate actions can be taken to protect public health and the environment. For instance in USA some of the dams found unsafe are completely dismantled. In some cases the embankments of the dam are strengthened and others, the storage are reduced for operation so that in the event of a dam failure, the costs of damage will be restrained to lie within the tolerable limits. The engineers can plan for alternate courses of action by reducing the heights of dam and their storages and avoid loss of life and property for achieving more or less the same economic gains by following the alternate course of action. To give an example the case study of Horsetooth reservoir case is presented to serve as a model for preparing similar risk assessment reports for Polavaram dam. For details see the website:
(b) Dam Safety and economic viability problems ignored by Expert committees:
Basic Environmental clearance is very wrong due to non-application of minds of Experts of AP State, CWC and Union Ministry of Water Resources and Environment. Some of the crucial aspects regarding safety and economic feasibility have been ignored by experts and a few selected aspects ignored are presented here.
i) Failure of the project proponent to get the consent of the Chattisgarh and Orissa by holding Public hearings in these states as per regulations of the Environmental Protection Act, 1986.
ii) Failure of Environmental Appraisal committee members to know if this interstate river valley project has got consent of the upper states and if so, whether the upper states opted for taking compensation for submersion of lands or gave consent for construction of embankment dams to avoid submersion as per the Bachawat Award of April 1980. If embankments are opted whether their environmental impact assessment reports in Orissa and Chattisgarh have been made part of this EIA/EMP report of 2005 for Polavaram project.
iii) Incomplete information in the report on Dam Break Analysis under the EIA/EMP report and also inaccurate and incomplete information on Risk Analysis and Disaster Management plan furnished under EIA/EMP report
iv) Absence of field studies to evaluate the extents of lands that can be freshly irrigated by the project as compared with the lands likely to be submerged and the lands need to be acquired for infrastructure.
v) Absence of cost-benefit analysis on the basis of latest market values to determine the economic feasibility of the project.
vi) Failure of the Expert committee Members of all state and Union Government organizations to question if the existing flood banks of Godavari from Polavaram for about 100km upto Bay of Bengal can withstand the devastating flood waves impacts caused by an inflow flood of 60 lakhs cusecs as estimated by the experts of National Institute of Hydrology who prepared the Dam Break Analysis report for the project.
vii) Unscientific conclusions made on the basis of an incomprehensive EIA report on Polavaram Dam in recommending for Environmental clearance for the project.
 Embankments failed to prevent Krishna floods from drowning the Temple Town of Alampur Oct.2009

Embankments utterly fail to provide flood protection

Source :



FAILURE OF GOVERNMENT TO ENSURE MAINTENANCE OF FACILITIES FOR EMBANKMENT WALLS TO FUNCTION EFFECTIVELY DURING FLOODS IN RAINY SEASON:  Heavy rainfall in neighbouring Maharashtra saw over 6 lakh cusecs of water flowing into the Sriramsagar project in Nizamabad district while the river flowed at a height of 67 feet at Bhadrachalam leaving a trail of destruction. Godavari at Dowlaiswaram near Rajahmundry crossed 22.5 feet, the danger level due to heavy rain in the catchment area.
The officials are concerned that a 1986 type situation might recur when the water level touched 23.60 feet. Officials released 27 lakh cusecs of water into the sea on Sunday.
 Rajahmundry: Heavy rain for the last three days caused havoc in the city repeating the last year's fury. It was on September 19 last year, all the low-lying areas of the city were inundated due to heavy floods to the Godavari.
After midnight on Wednesday, there was heavy to more heavy rain and the Nalla Channel pumping system, which has to carry sewage water of more than half of the area, failed. As a result, the rainwater stagnated in the streets like Aryapuram, Tummalava, Seshaiahmetta and a few areas in old town.
Outdated system
The corporation arranged one 150 HP motor and three 30 HP motors long ago to pump out water. But they had become outdated. "As there is no other go we are running the motors which will do at least 40 to 50 per cent of pumping," said the engineer.
After the last year floods, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy came to Rajahmundry and announced that he was sanctioning Rs.3 crores for replacing engine, motors and pumping system. "The corporation has not got the amount. The Commissioner and we engaged private motors and asked ONGC and AP Paper Mills to send their pumping machinery along with our fire tenders," said the Mayor.
  Knowingly Committed Mistakes in the form of under-estimating Peak Floods Magnitude 

The Polavaram project is proposed to be located about 42 km upstream of Godavari Barrage at Dowlaiswaram, which was constructed during 1970’s. In the case of Godavari Barrage, a maximum flood discharge of 0.915 lakh cumec (32.30 lakh cusec) at a 200 year return period had been adopted. As the catchment area between Polavaram and Dowlaiswaram is so small that additional flood discharge will be nominal, it has been decided by the State to use the flood data available at Dowlaiswaram for the years from 1904 to 1975. Flood values prior to 1904, i.e., from 1881 to 1903 were estimated for increasing the length of the flood flow series to 95 years (1881 to 1975). The extended flood flow series has been analysed using Gumbel’s flood frequency analysis modified by Ven Te Chow to arrive at the flood flow values at various return periods. These are reproduced in the fokllowing Table .
3Probable floods with their return periods
Return period (years)
Probable flood (lakh cumec)
As per CWC criteria on the design flood, storages more than 61.67 Mm3 (50,000 Ac.ft.) have to be designed for the probable maximum flood or 1000 year return period flood whichever is higher. However, in view of the fact that the Polavaram project can be considered as a barrage for design flood purposes and also as the construction of upstream storages will reduce the flood intensity (the Polavaram project is the terminal reservoir on river Godavari), a design flood of 1.010 lakh cumec corresponding to 500 year return period is considered for spillway design.

Polavaram Project - Problems
1.      Cannot be of much use without either Ichampalli or Bhoopalapatnam projects on the upstream.
2.      R & R problems, Coal belt, etc.
3.      Dam line requires changes.
4.      Flood management is a problem.
5.      The Irrigation is limited to 7.0lakh acres (75% this already under some sort of irrigation) and with only          seasonal power.
6.      80 TMC transfer to Krishna delta is at the time not much required.
7.      Godavari and Krishna deltas get affected (loss of khariff paddy in 4.0 lakh acres).
8.      Yeleru canals need to be remodelled (C.D.Works).
9.      Rail and Road bridges are to be remodelled.
10.  Drawing about 250 TMC during rainy season from Polavaram to Krishna river disturbs the irrigation systems and agriculture.
11.  Kolleru lake level raises.
12.  Upputeru capacity becomes inadequate.
13.  Budameru becomes a river of sorrow.
14.  Vijayawada city gets into danger of flooding.
15.  Industrial and other developments between V.T.P.S. and Vijayawada may face serious flood problems.
16.  Delinking the Krishna delta from Nagarjunasagar and          partly attaching it to polavaram results in diminishing the protective rights of Krishna delta.
17.  Problem of heavy silting.
The deltas suffer from the drainage generated from the Eastern ghats.  Further adding 250 TMC in khariff season is like driving the last nail.  Environmentalists are not addressing themselves to these more serious problems and the study is limited to the R & R problems of polavaram reservoir only.
All this effort at a cost of nearly Rs.10,000 crores is for limited unsustainable benefits resulting in permanent injury to delta ayacut and other sectors.
Strategically, to plan to transport nearly 250 TMC at the eastern slopes of the Eastern Ghats is suicidal for the entire rich basin upto the Bay of Bengal, apart from lurking danger to the life lines, the Trunk road, railway line, irrigation tanks and canals.  This area suffers from flood problems frequently which will become more intensive.
Having lost nearly 50 years over the mighty projects of Ichampalli and Polavaram (earlier Ramapadasagar) which could not be resolved even now due to :-
(a)    heavy investment,
(b)   less benefits,
(c)    unresolved inter-state problems,
(d)   unsurmountable problems relating to environment and ecology,
(e)    limited irrigation coverage of only 8 to 9 lakh acres,
(f)     inevitably of lift irrigation to serve further needy areas,
(g)    consequent increase in regional disparities, and
(h)    drought areas not getting any benefit, I have expalined the availability of water, the period, the location and feasibility to take up lift irrigation to begin with, leaving the construction of the reservoir at Ichampalli and Polavaram to the wisdom, talent and effort to the future generations.
The Godavari flows almost close to the northern border.  The water is to be transported to higher levels negotiating the rising topography and over long distances.
Lift irrigation is therefore a must and distances to be reached are great.  The following strategies are evolved and adopted.
New Techniques (Alternatives)
1.      Use of natural water resources to function as canal systems.
2.      Low head pumping arrangements.
3.      Storage reservoirs submerging only unproductive lands without much rehabilation problems. 
4.      Swapping of waters from one system to the other.
5.      Beneficiaries participation and management from investigation to execution and operation.
The study revealed that about 600 TMC can be pumped without any head works across the Godavari. Utilising streams as carriers of pumped water and swapping of water from one system to the other has resulted in considerable economy, least disturbance to the environment and need less maintenance.
The scheme to irrigate 58 lakh acres, providing 40 TMC for drinking and industries, 10 TMC to Hyderabad and 40 TMC to Rayalaseema is made out after detailed study of levels and topography.
The cost per acre is as low as Rs.11,000 to 12,000.  The total power required during 4 to 5 months of rainy season is about 3000 MW, which can be managed over a period of 15 to 20 years.  All clearances can easily be obtained since no inter-state problems are involved and only limited problems relating to environment are involved.
Water supply to the Hyderabad city can be had at 30 to 50% of the cost of bringing water from the Nagarjunasagar.
New financial instruments need to be developed.  The scheme can be financed by the beneficiaries, if only the required atmosphere is created by suitable steps like enactments of the required acts, etc.  The government can act as friend, philosopher and guide, generously lending financial. Administrative and technical support when needed at the right time.
-.Sriramakrishnaiah K Dr., 2004, pp116-117, 2nd Irrigation Day Celebrations, 3rd March 2004, Background note for utilization of Godavari waters, Vision of Dr. K.Sriramakrishnaiah ,BE,FIE on Water resources and Utilisation in Andhra Pradesh.
The Godavari is the biggest river in Andhra Pradesh.  It is also the lowest running river.  Its flood flow is limited to four to five months of south-west monsoon period.  Only nominal flows are available in other months.
Godavari flood flows transport considerable volume of silt.  Any reservoir across Godavari looses considerable capacity very fast.  The Godavari is flanked by dense Dandakaraya forest.   Any reservoir across Godavari involves submersion of valuable forest areas.  Alongwith it the tribals, who live in these forests have to be rehabilitated.  Mineral wealth, specially coal, a valuable energy fuel, may also be lost due to submersion under any reservoir.  The submersion extends to the neighbouring states, and this problem cannot be solved easily.
The main river has two notable works one at the entry into Andhra Pradesh-Sriramsagar, and the other at the head of the delta formation- Sir Arthur Cotton Barrage, near Dowlaiswaram.  In between Inchampalli reservoir and Polavaram project are proposed.   These projects have kindled the hopes and aspirations of the people in the Godavari basin and outside.
The rapid siltation of Sriramsagar, the biggest major irrigation project in the Telangana, is causing worry.
There is a plenty of scope to construct small reservoirs within the command which will improve the storage position.  Due to these reservoirs, the capacity of pumps to be installed gets reduced and the benefit of the post-monsoon crop, which is most desirable, can be had.
- Dr. K.Sriramakrishnaiah, 2004, pp122-126, 2nd Irrigation Day Celebrations, 3rd March 2004, Background note for utilization of Godavari waters, Vision of Dr. K.Sriramakrishnaiah,BE,FIE on Water resources and Utilisation in Andhra Pradesh.



About Me

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Born in 1932 at Mudinepalli, near Gudivada, Krishna Dist. Andhra Pradesh, received Bachelors degree in Civil Engg., from Viswesaraiah Engineering College, Banglore (1956) and Masters Degree in Environmental Engineering from Rice university, Houston, Texas, (USA) (1962), Ph.D (Hony). Former Head of the Department of Civil Engineering and principal of College of Engineering, Andhra university.Formerly Hony.Professor in Andhra University,Manonmanian Sundarnar University,JNT University. Fellow of the Institution of Engineers,India Recipient of the University Grants Commissions National Award "Swami Pranavananda Award on Ecology and Environmental Sciences" for the year 1991. Recipient of Sivananda Eminent Citizen Award for 2002 by Sanathana Dharma Charitable Trust, Andhra Pradesh state. Presently Working as Director, centre for Environmental Studies, GITAM University,