Union Cabinet approves nationwide project for rehabilitation and improvement of dams worth Rs. 10,211 crore

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New Delhi: The Union Cabinet approved externally aided DRIP Phase II and Phase III in its meeting held on October 29, 2020. The project will initially cover Nineteen (19) States and three (3) Central Agencies. The Budget Outlay is Rs 10,211 Cr for an implementation period of ten (10) years. The scheme will be implemented in two Phases, each of six (6) years duration, with two (2) years’ overlap. The programme will fund physical rehabilitation of key dams as well as capacity building of dam operators in order to ensure availability of trained and skilled manpower for better operation of dams.

India ranks third globally after China and the United States of America, with 5334 large dams in operation. In addition, about 411 dams are under construction at present. There are also several thousand smaller dams. These dams are vital for ensuring the water security of the Country. Indian dams and reservoirs play an important role in the economic and agricultural growth of our country by storing approximately 300 billion cubic meter of water annually.

These dams present a major responsibility in terms of asset management and safety. Due to deferred maintenance and other health issues, these dams have associated risks in case of failure. The consequences of dam failure can be catastrophic, in terms of loss of human life and property, and damage to ecology. The first phase of the DRIP programme, which covered 223 dams in 7 states, improved the safety and operational performance of selected dams, along with institutional strengthening through a system wide management approach. This programme strengthened the overall culture of dam safety in the country.

Apart from structural measures to improve hydrologic safety, hydro-mechanical measures, seepage reduction, structural stability etc., non structural measures such as dam break analyses, emergency action plans, O&M manuals, were put in place for the selected dams. In addition, DHARMA (Dam Health and Rehabilitation Monitoring), a system to monitor the health of dams, has been developed and is, at present, being used by 18 states. A seismic hazard analysis information system (SHAISYS) has also been developed.

In order to carry forward the momentum gained through the ongoing DRIP, and expand it vertically and horizontally, the new Scheme, DRIP Phase II, co-financed by World Bank (WB) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with US$250 million each, covers large dams in 19 states of the country.

This Scheme is especially focused on mitigating the risks of dam failure and ensuring safety of people, riverine ecology and property located downstream of these selected dams, through structural as well as non-structural measures like physical rehabilitation, preparation of Operation and Maintenance Manuals, Emergency Action Plans, Early Warning System and various other measures.

Life of these selected reservoirs will be extended further by addressing health and safety concerns of these selected dams; in turn, these assets will provide planned benefits efficiently for longer period to public at large in terms of various direct benefits like irrigation, drinking water, hydel power, flood control etc.

In addition to physical rehabilitation, as mentioned before, equal emphasis has been given to capacity building of dam owners in order to ensure availability of trained and skilled manpower for better operation of dams. Customized training programmes for various technical and managerial aspects will assist dam owners to create a pool of knowledge to deal with matters of dam safety confidently and scientifically.

This programme is a model of cooperative federalism. States will borrow from the external agencies to rehabilitate their dams, based on their assessed needs. Government of India facilitates access to external financing, and also provides technical support to assess risk and strengthen dam safety in the state.

In view of the size of India’s dam portfolio and challenges in operating and maintaining these existing assets, Government of India is making all out efforts to ensure the availability of a pool of dam safety professionals across the country. The provision for partnerships with premier Academic Institutions like IISc and IITs and capacity building of five (5) Central Agencies along with dam owners will strengthen “Atma Nirbhar Bharat”. It will ensure long term sustainability of required knowledge and human resources to assist our dam owners. India will also position herself as a knowledge leader on dam safety, particularly in South and South East Asia.

The programme will enable states and dam owners to extend these safety protocols and activities beyond the selected dams to all other dams within their jurisdiction, overall enhancing the culture of dam safety in the country.

This programme complements the provisions in the Dam Safety Bill 2019, by ensuring capacity building of the dam owners as well as the proposed regulators, as well as creating necessary protocols for dam safety. It is likely to generate employment opportunities equivalent to approximately 10,00,000 person days for unskilled workers, and 2,50,000 person days for working professionals. This programme will enhance water security in the country, and support sustainable development.

 

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