It is slowly becoming evident that the underlying cause of the grim flood situation in Sangli and Kolhapur was because of the huge dams and the mismanagement by their authorities, says environmentalist Madhav Gadgil. According to the South Asia Network Report on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), a group studying dams, rivers and folk life in South Asia, released on Monday, the discharge of waters from the Koyna, Warna and Radhanagri, three huge dams, have caused the huge mess and resulted in the current situation in Sangli and Kolhapur.
The report has suggested, the right time to take stock of water levels and plan the discharge from the dams was when the rainfall was moderate in intensity and before the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had sounded a red alert. The dams at Radhanagri, Koyna and Warna were full at the time and releasing the water at this time would have been safer than doing so when the rain came pouring down in torrents. However, the water from the dams was released in the midst of intense downpour, with disastrous results.
Gadgil, head of the Western Ghat Environmental Studies Group, says it is evident just from the summary of the report that had water been released in instalments, from the dams at the right time, the disaster could have been averted. There was lack of coordination between the dam authorities and the district administration. Moreover, it has come to light, the dam authorities failed to give adequate information about the water levels to the government, which caused such devastation. Gadgil recalled the massive devastation caused by the rains in Kerala last year, when in a similar manner, the dam water was not released in time.