Hirakud reservoir spillway project worth Rs 786 crore falters amid administrative impasse

Sambalpur: A project proposed with an estimated cost of Rs 786 crore for the construction of additional spillways in Hirakud Dam’s reservoir at Burla of Sambalpur district still awaits administrative approval. The project was sent for the State government’s nod a year ago and its allocated budget has doubled in the meanwhile, a senior official informed today on the promise of anonymity.

According to the source, in 1997, Central Water Commission (CWC) and the State government had jointly made an assessment of probable maximum flood (PMF) in River Mahanadi. During this, it was ascertained that there is a possibility of a maximum of 24.50 lakh Cusecs of rainwater entering the reservoir at a time. In the present scenario, at best, 15 lakh Cusecs of rainwater can be drained out of it.

Neighbouring Chhattisgarh government has been giving priority to the construction of more barrages on upper catchment areas of River Mahanadi, thereby safeguarding lives and properties.

Regulation of rainwater inflow through a number of barrages by the Chhattisgarh government in its own interest has posed a serious threat to the Hirakud Dam reservoir. Hence, the construction of additional spillways became essential and CWC and the State government with financial assistance from World Bank previously initiated the ambitious project, after the opening of a new spillway division.

An MoU in this regard was initially inked in 2018 between the State government and Tata Infra Projects Limited for an estimated cost of Rs 369.53 crore. However, due to an unusual delay in land acquisition, Tata withdrew from the project in 2020 after completing works worth only Rs 12 crore.

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