Workshop on Reservoir Management
Every time a major flood makes headlines, a reservoir also makes it under the spotlight. This is because reservoirs are one of the most important structural measures for reducing the impact of floods, and their well-thought-out operationalization is a pre-requisite to minimizing the frequency, duration and impact of floods in downstream areas.
India has more than 5,000 large dams in operation and another few hundred under construction. In addition, there are several thousand smaller dams. These dams are vital for ensuring water security in the country; and meeting irrigation, hydropower generation and other water needs of communities living in their vicinity.
Moreover, there have been instances of unregulated release of water from the reservoirs resulting in an increase in the impact of flood events (Kerala 2018 and Madhya Pradesh 2019). In June 2014, sudden water release from Larji Hydroelectric dam in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, resulted in the death of several tourists.
Reservoirs may not offer absolute flood protection and embankments along the downstream river are often required as a supplementary measure to contain the residual floods. However, they are an important component in flood management and also ensure optimum utilization of water resources. Reservoir Management thus constitutes a major responsibility in terms of asset management and safety.
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with Ministry of Jal Shakti conducted a national-level workshop on the Management of Floods: Reservoir Management, in New Delhi on October 18, 2019.
To set the tone of the workshop, NDMA made a presentation highlighting the progress made so far, key issues and challenges, and the way forward for improving our management of reservoirs for better flood control.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri G. V. V. Sarma, Member Secretary, NDMA, referred to NDMA Guidelines of 2008 and 2010, which elaborated a number of action points by various agencies and State governments. He urged all stakeholder agencies and State governments to coordinate their efforts towards improved reservoir management in the country. "There is a need for better flood response and preparedness in terms of overall coordination among all stakeholder agencies," he said.
Shri Upendra Prasad Singh, Secretary, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation emphasized the need for judicious operationalization of dams by State authorities based on the data provided by India Meteorological Department (IMD) and Central Water Commission (CWC). “There is a need to revisit our policies as the changing climate has posed new challenges,” he said. He also stressed the need to have proper dissemination of flood-related alerts and transparency in reservoir operations.
Stakeholders discussed a range of issues pertaining to better management of reservoirs and the role of rainfall prediction, flood forecasting and early warning and wide dissemination of advisories and alerts. The need to manage gaps in reservoir operations and to remove encroachments on flood plains were also highlighted. State governments presented case studies on the management of dams.
It was decided to work towards an operational mechanism that would ensure timely exchange of information among all stakeholders so that reservoir operation during floods can be better regulated, based on advanced forecasting techniques.
NDMA Members and officials, senior officials from IMD, CWC, National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), representatives of State Governments and representatives of the civil society participated in the event.
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