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Dams controlled floods,says water panel chief

Countering what he called 'uninformed speculation',Central Water Commission chairman

Countering what he called “uninformed speculation”,Central Water Commission (CWC) chairman Rajesh Kumar Monday said dams in Uttarakhand had reduced the flooding of towns and villages after torrential rains last week.

“Flood levels at Haridwar and Rishikesh would have been much higher than the worst levels this time if the Tehri reservoir had not been there,” Kumar told The Indian Express.

He said the water level in the dam was under control and did not breach the maximum tolerance zone even at the height of the rains and flooding.

The construction of the Tehri dam had been bitterly contested by interest groups. They had claimed the stored water could create a disaster in the earthquake-prone Himalayan region and lead to a flood havoc.

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But Kumar pointed out that this was an uninformed debate as dams in India pass through several layers of clearances before construction starts. The CWC is the country’s premier technical organization for water management.

He said the devastation in the hill state was restricted at places where water flowing down the hills was successfully trapped in reservoirs. There was havoc where there were no such reservoirs.

Kedarnath was ravaged by water coming down the hills above the snowline and had no safety zones such as dams where the flow could be channeled. The pilgrim centre remains snow-bound for six months in a year and therefore has no major commercial or large residential structures in the area. “So there is no question of any human-created reason for the floods from either industry or from the dams,” Kumar added.

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Uttarakhand has 19 dams that qualify as large – 15 metres or more in height – according to the CWC,with six of them under construction. The dams at Tehri over the Bhagirathi and over the Ramganga in Pauri Garhwal are designated as dams of national importance.

This month’s floods saw maximum water flowing through the Bhagirathi and the Alaknanda.

BSNL to track last location of missing

BSNL has launched a special service to track the last location of its users who went missing after the flash floods.

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“The subscriber’s BSNL number should be sent by SMS with his/her name,” said an official.

BSNL users in Uttarakhand can send the SMS to 1503,while other network subscribers can contact 09412024365.

First published on: 25-06-2013 at 04:07 IST
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