Friday, January 7, 2011

Alamatti Dam,if raised ,becomes,a Killer Project

An over-sized Alamatti dam is not a mere inter-state water dispute problem but a serious environmental threat to the public health, the environmental assets, the right to livelihood and the right to life of millions of Andhra Agriculture laboures and  farmers who have been enjoying the riparian rights over Krishna river waters for over a century. It also poses an equally serious threat to the public health and environmental assets of hundreds of Kannada villages not only in the catchment of the proposed reservoirs but also in the Ayacut due to flash floods resulting from a maximum credible accident to the Alamatti dam which is located on a high Seismic Zone whose seismic potential due to hidden activating faults have not been so far as in USA as can be seen from Web site;
Bachawat Tribunal sanctioned 103 TMC for irrigating 10.10 lakh acres under narayanpur Left canal and 52 TMC to irrigate 4.30 lakh acres under Narayanpur Right Canal,making a total of 173 TMC for theTwin Reservoirs of Narayanpur and Alamatti Dams of the Upper Krishna Project[UKP]including karnataka's allotment of 18 TMC..
In case Upper Krishna dams collapse during heavy rains, the flash floods may cause the collapse of Jurala, Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar dams in Andhra Pradesh and the terminal Prakasam barrage at Vijayawada may be washed away. By increasing the height of the shutters the Alamatti dam provides 4 times more storage and utilization of 442 Thousand Million Cubic ft. (TMC) of Krishna water as against the original sanctioned utilization of 173 TMC. The impact of the over-sized storage has to be examined from the environmental angle by making a detailed environmental impact assessment report which includes dam safety analysis, dam-burst scenario, disaster management, resettlement and rehabilitation during a maximum credible accident to the dam,. 10% of the dams have failed all over the world including India. Hence the Canadian Government has prepared dam-burst scenario, disaster management reports for all the dams as the basic components of their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports for assessing the feasibility of emergency evacuation and thereby assuring the safety of their river valley projects by making necessary modifications to the heights of the dams and the sizes of the reservoirs in different places. In the case of the Alamatti dam only a conditional environmental clearance and a preliminary No Objection Certificate from the Central Electricity Authority have been given on the basis of preliminary project reports for making initial arrangements for construction and financial investments. So far the conditional clearances were obtained for individual parts of the project. Hence a detailed project report for the over-sized Alamatti dam must be prepared to get a final approval from the Union Ministries of Power, Water Resources, Environment and Forests. Until such time as the final environmental clearances for the comprehensive project are obtained further financial sanction for the project from state, national or international organizations and Governments shall not be made and further work on the construction of the dam must be stopped.

The first stage of the Upper Krishna Project as per the Central Water Commission decision of 1963 consists of the Narayanapur dam with the Right and Left Bank canals for utilization of 103 TMC and the construction of the carry-over reservoir at Alamatti dam. Consequently the second stage has to be limited for project works that enable further utilisation of 52 TIMC sanctioned by the Bachawat Tribunal. Narayanapur composite dam 30 meters high, has a storage of 38 TMC and the first stage of Alamatti, 48 meters high, has a storage of 42 TMC. By utilizing a coefficient of 1.5 the water utilisation will be 120 TMC under these dams. Karnataka Government is financing the lift irrigation schemes on an extensive scale the ratio between water utilisation and water storage must be increased to 1.8. Since Alamatti dam stores 10 11 TMC for every meter depth of water, the present Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of 512 meters may be increased upto 515 meters for full utilisation of Krishna water. Surprisingly the Planning Commission directed the Karnataka Government on 24-9-1990 to increase the spill way crest of Alamatti dam and keep the FRL at 512 meters as previously approved in 1978 while it simultaneously directed the raising the dam to 524 meters and even granted no objection certificate to increase the crest gate level to 528 meters for hydro power generation and also to provide lift irrigation schemes from 5 places in the Alamatti reservoir. Evidently the Planning Commission violated Bachawat tribunal award to unduly favour Karnataka to the detriment of millions farmers of Andhra Pradesh. Moreover the Karnataka Government proposes to convert Hippargi barrage into a dam and add four cascade dams of 30 to 40 meters head in the river bed down stream of Narayanapur dam so that the major part of Krishna river is virtually converted into one of the longest storage reservoirs in the world. This additional increase in height of Alamatti is made under the pretext of generating 270 MWQ of hydro-power. By this action Karnataka will be depriving the farmers of Krishna basin in Andhra Pradesh to get the river flows delayed by about 3 months.
As predicted by us 3 years ago,todaythe whole agriculture system under krishna river projects has utterly failed.The very purpose of anicutys and resrvoirs built on krishna river both by the British engineers before independence and those executed later are becoming infructuous due to the failure of the politicians,officials and engineers to educate the people on the hazards of raising the height of Alamatti dam even by violating the rule of the land.Although Karnataka wanted to store more water to use 442 TMC for agriculture and hydro-power they could not rehabilitate all villagers like to be victimised due to floods,they are releasing a small quantity of water from AlamattiToday srisailam reservoir has only 134 TMC out of which 5 TMC is used for power generationFor generating 400 MU of power if 5 TMC is used per day there will not be perhaps any water for all the projects under both Srisailam and Nagarjuna sagar and in the delta.It is apity that while 3/4 of the people in the river basin are villagers and 2/3 of them depend mostly on agriculture and agriculture labour work,almost 50 % of the people will suffer from unemployment,malnutrition,disease and famine in due course unless we plan to get some water by some means or the other to tide over this man-made crisis.Even today the grave crimes perpetrated by the the national leaders have to rectified by the intellectuals who can play a dominant role in rectifying the avoidable sins of commission

At the behest of Karnataka politicians the Planning Commission and the Central Water Commission have been encouraging Karnataka to increase the height of the dam even though it is known that such massive storage of water in this earthquake prone zone will ultimately cause reservoir induced seismicity leading to the collapse of the dam. Such a dam-burst causes lakhs of deaths of human and animal populations and destroys properties worth thousands of crores of rupees in hundreds of Kannada villages down stream of the dam. Increased height of the dam has triggered reservoir induced seismicity leading to failure of dams in several countries. Dams also failed due to other reasons like poor foundations, poor design, poor workmenship and sabotage. Infact 16 dams burst in India. The US Airforce destroyed hydro-electric dams in North Korea in 1953. An over sized Alamatti dam may fail due to a maximum credible accident particularly due to its location on the cymatogenic arch of Belgaum-Kakinada. A comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment report of this project should contain dam safety analysis and disaster management programmes including resettlement or rehabilitation for all the village likely to be drowned due to flash floods. If the accident occurs during heavy rains even the dams in Andhra Pradesh located at Jurala , Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar may also burst and the Prakasam barrage may be washed away. According to a preliminary dam burst scenario at Alamatti about 240 villages as listed in the following table will be affected
Location     DistanceFrom             Bed Water     Submergence        Submersible   Villagesto be submerged
                        Dam (km)             level level          Level                         contour                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Alamatti                 0                            480             524                         507                                 58
Narayanapur        64                            467             490                         425                                 82
Kollur                 139                           350            360                           350                                20
Bhima Confluence 175                          330            340                          330                               36
Jurala                  230                            300            310                           305                              40
Siddheswaram    305                             290           300                           295                               25

  Table Extracted From:“ENVIRONEMNTAL IMPLICATIONS OF ALAMATTI DAM” – in workshop on Socio Technological and Environmental aspects of Alamatti dam and Krishna waters, Civil Engineering Department, Andhra Univerjsity, October,1996"authored by Prof.Dr.M.L.Narasimham,Expert Hydrologist,Prof.Dr.M..Venkata Rao,Retired Perofessor of Civil Engineering and Prof.T.shivaji Rao,Director,centre for Environmental studies,Gitam Engineering College,visakhapatnam
It must be emphasized that the contentions of the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of Karnataka that unless an over sized Alamatti dam is constructed they cannot utilize their full share of Krishsna water amounting to 729 TMC are highly misleading and false. In fact the latest irrigation report of Karnataka Government indicates that they are already using 540 TMC of Krishna water and hence the Upper Krishna a project has to use only the balance of 160 TMC of Krishna water. Surprisingly a detailed examination of the annual river flows shows that 50% dependable flow is 2060 TMC while 75% dependable flow is about 1900 TMC. Hence an over-sized Alamatti dam makes a drastic reduction in the availability of water particularly in the loan years for the hydro- power and irrigation projects in Andhra Pradesh. There will be serious damage caused to public health, agriculture, Animal Husbandry, industry, wildlife and the environment. Since agricultural operations in 30 lakh acres under Nagarjunasagar canals and Krishna delta will be seriously effected due to delayed arrival of Krishna waters, there will be serious deficit in food production. In the absence of timely flows in Krishna water in the canals and tanks the availability of good quality of drinking water from surface and ground waters cause health problems to human and animal populations. Even rainfall patterns will change due to lae transplanatation. The harvesting of the paddy crops will be extended upto November when the seasonal cyclones will destroy the paddy crops. In view of Latur earthquake, the earthquake in damage to the Koyna dam and the collapse of several dams in India the geological and construction failures and other causes. The dam cannot be considered safe unless it is possible to forecast the time of arrival of flood waves to different villages and towns down stream due to a dam burst and implement plans for evacuating and resettling in safer places all the cattle and human population in hundreds of villages likely to be drowned in the floods. It must be assessed whether such huge floods caused by the bursting of an over sized Alamatti dam will also lead to the failure of other irrigation structures at Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar reservoirs and Krishna barrage. But the Ministries of Environment and Ministries of Irrigation and Power at the state and Central levels refuse to prepare and include these crucial scenarios as part of Environmental impact reports because the people may organize marches and demonstrations against hazardous projects which lead to economic ruination of the country.

It must be realized that Andhras are not opposing the drinking and irrigation facilities to be provided by the Upper Krishna project as per Bachawat award. Union Government should consider whether it is more cheaper and safer to provide a pit-head thermal station in singareni coal fields of Andhra Pradesh to supply 300 MW of Electricity to North Karnataka districts instead of increasing the height of Alamatti dam from 515 to 528 meters and thereby promote a man-made disaster due to the collapse of the Alamatti dam particularly during this UN decade of Natural Disasters Mitigation.

Under these circumstances the potential environmental hazards due to the over-sized Alamatti dam will have to be considered as per Article 21 and 32 of the constitution of India and all the people must strive to protect their environment under article 51(A) of the constitution. Unless those developmental activities are carefully considered from the environmental angle they cannot be expected to promote sustainable growth. Under these circumstances the A.P. state Government must insist on the Central Government to cancel the illegal conditional permissions already given for this project by the Central Water Commission, Central Electricity Authority, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Planning Commission. It is also necessary for the Central Government to ensure that Maharashtra and Karnataka shall not modify their projects or methods of water utilisation in excess of the limits stipulated by the Bachawat Award. The people of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh must debate over these crucial problems of life and death and exert pressure on their elected representatives to force the political leaders of all parties to take a right decision for the sustainable development of the nation.

Several billions of dollars are spent by the various states and Central Governments in India to construct dams across major river to grow various food crops and to generate hydro-power not only to meet the needs of the growing population but also to eliminate poverty and unemployment. But somehow the states in the upper reaches of the rivers are going out of the way to plan and construct the dams for diverting the water for irrigation and hydro power development but in so doing they are not only making the existing reservoirs infructuous even by violating the riparian rights of the farmers in the lower reaches of the rivers and thereby promoting poverty. Unemployment and unrest leading to conflicts and violence betweens the river basin states. Unfortunately the central Government which has to play pivotal role in safeguarding public health and welfare and people’s right to life is content to be a silent spectator at this wanton destruction of river ecology and sustainable development that maintain equity and justice. In fact the Krishna Reservoir project report (Vol.I, Part-4 Government of Madras, PWD, Irrigation Branch “the essential duty of the proposed reservoir over any river is full supply to the early crop in both the delta and the uplands.(for millions of acres). The reservoir is considered effective so long as its capacity suffices for this. On this basis is fixed the limit of capacity below which it is considered the reservoir ceases to be fully effective, that, is a full protection to the long crop”. In this context it is pertinent to realize that the construction of an over-sized Alamatti dam takes all the freshets from the South-West monsoon and takes a long time to get its reservoir capacity full to enable hydro-power production in full so that the consequential scanty discharge into the river downstream will be highly inadequate to fill the irrigation reservoirs constructed in Andhra Pradesh on River Krishna at Jurala, Srisailam and Nagarjuna Sagar in addition to the Krishna barrage which is a substitute to the Krishna anicut built by the great British Engineers in 1850s. Moreover the Maharashtra Government is also diverting lot of water from Krishna rive only for irrigation but also for additional hydro-power generating units that are diverting the water of the river essentially required for food crop production being wasted into the Arabian sea under the guise of hydro-power generation which could be obtained by alternate methods like coal, diesel or gas based thermal power plants. Unfortunately the people of Andhra Pradesh are made to suffer from the scarcity of water in the Krishna river for meeting the previous uses of the river water for drinking, irrigating, power generation, fisheries and recreation. None of the leaders of any political parties the intellectuals, the bureaucrats or the social activists are interested in securing the water rights of the river for the farmers and farm workers of the state.

[ This article  has to be revised and it gives only an approximate view of the potential damaging impacts]

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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,