NEW DELHI, Dec 20 � The ongoing agitation against construction of mega dams in Assam may not cut much ice with the Centre, as a Ministry of Water Resources-sponsored study has favoured storage-backed projects for flood control.
The Report of the Working Group on Water Resources for XIth Five Year Plan stipulates that the storage-backed projects provide assured irrigation, hydropower generation, water for domestic and industrial use and also enable flood moderation, said Minister of State for Water Resources Vincent H Pala in a Rajya Sabha reply recently.
The agitators protesting against construction of mega dam projects cite volatile seismology of the North-east as the reason for their stand.
However, the National Register of Large Dams (NRLD) does not maintain seismic zone-wise data about dams, Pala has revealed.
According to NRLD records maintained by the Central Water Commission (CWC), there are 5,124 large dams in the country, of which 4,728 have been completed.
The responsibility of safety of dams rests with the concerned owner of the dam including the State Government, and the public sector undertaking. Recommendation on safety including seismic safety is given by CWC under the MoWR on specific cases and as and when they are referred to CWC by the dam owners.
According to the Minister, a storage capacity of about 252 billion cubic meters (BCM) has been created in the country, so far. The total estimated storage capacity of the various projects under construction is about 64 BCM, he said.
Further, Pala said the State Governments have identified various other schemes for investigation and planning and the estimated storage for such schemes is about 108 BCM.
According to current assessment, the average annual water availability in the country is 1,869 BCM. It has been estimated by CWC in 2009 that about 450 BMC of surface water and by Central Ground Water Board in 2004 that about 231 BCM of ground water is being utilised for various purposes.
Therefore, approximately 1,188 BCM on annual average basis could be considered to be flowing down to sea, the Minister said.