Bhanpura (Madhya Pradesh): Amid the ongoing monsoon season, incomplete maintenance work of Gandhi Sagar dam sluice gate may pose a threat to the dam as well as to human life residing downstream of the dam.
The Gandhi Sagar Dam on the Chambal River in Madhya Pradesh was constructed in 1960 to provide drinking water to several districts of Rajasthan and generate 115 megawatts of electricity. It has been breached several times in recent years, causing flooding in downstream areas.
It is one of the five water reservoirs of national importance and three districts of the state — Sheopur, Morena and Bhind, with an approximate collective population of 4.35 million (as per the 2011 Census) — lie downstream of the dam.
Meanwhile, Gandhi Sagar has been put in Category II in the dam inspection report thanks to the absence of regular checks, non-functional instruments and choked drains which are the major problems plaguing the dam for years, according to the report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) released December 23, 2021.
Many claimed that the maintenance work of 19 gates of the dam has remained a mere formality.
The gates of the dam are opened when the water level of the dam rises in the monsoon. In such a situation, the maintenance work of the gates has to be finished before the monsoon, so that they can be opened easily when the water level of the dam increases.
But due to the apathy of the Water Resources Department, even till August, the maintenance work of the gates of the dam is at the initial level. The maintenance work of the gates may take another one to one and a half months. In such a situation, if the water level of the dam increases, the incomplete maintenance work of the gates of the dam can also become a threat to the safety of the dam.
Many accused that the maintenance work of the gates being done by the contract method is not up to the mark. As per the rules of the government and the conditions of the tender issued for about Rs 16 lakh for the maintenance work, about 25 litres of petrol, and cotton has to be used for cleaning the chain of one gate of the dam and the old material has to be removed by greasing it well.
Apart from this, oil, grease, high-quality primer and compound have to be applied, layer by layer by experienced labourers and a compressor machine is to be used to fill the grease as part of the maintenance work so that the machine works smoothly.
But, in this case, the gates are being cleaned with diesel and kerosene along with a very less quantity of petrol. Similarly, the prescribed quantity of grease and compound is not being used.
In such a situation, along with the arbitrariness of the contractor, the collusion of the departmental employees is also visible. The surprising thing is that the tender is about 41 per cent less than the prescribed rate which raises sufficient doubts about the quality of work.
Such irregularity by the department about work of such sensitive nature which involves a question of lives of lakhs of people is beyond comprehension.
When asked about the delay in maintenance work, engineers NK Sharma and ML Trivedi said that due to elections, the tender was delayed. They said that the maintenance work is going on now.
Meanwhile, repeated attempts to contact the executive engineer of Gandhisagar HK Malviya were not successful as he did not pick up the phone.
(Contributed by Pradeep Jain)