No link between Almatti dam discharge and Sangli floods: former irrigation official

No link between Almatti dam discharge and Sangli floods: former irrigation official

Amid a debate on whether quick discharge of water from Almatti dam in Karnataka could have prevented floods in Sangli, one of the two worst-hit districts in western Maharashtra, Ravindra Pathak, a retired irrigation department official, said there is no connection between Almatti dam and the floods in Sangli. Almatti dam is located in Bijapur district of Karnataka.

“It is wrong to connect Sangli floods with discharge from Almatti dam. Both have no connection whatsoever,” said Pathak, who said he had discussed this with the Karnataka government when the height of Almatti dam was to be raised. “I had held several meetings with Karnataka government officials when the issue of Almatti dam height had cropped up,” he said.

Last Tuesday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis spoke to Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and urged him to discharge more water from the dam to control the floods in Sangli and Kolhapur.

“After I spoke to Karnataka Chief Minister, the discharge from the dam kept on increasing day-by-day. It was increased to 4 lakh from 2.5 lakh and then has gone up to 5 lakh cusecs,” Fadnavis had said. He said he conveyed the urgency to Karnataka, stating that otherwise all of Sangli would be under water. It was widely speculated that if the discharge from Almatti had been increased quickly, the intensity of floods in Sangli could have reduced significantly.

Pathak said Almatti backwaters run for 200 km from Sangli. “And the capacity of Almatti is 173 TMC. The dam was in a position to hold lots of water flowing from Sangli area,” he said.

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Underlining that excessive rainfall caused flooding of the rivers in Sangli, Pathak said, “In 2005, too, Sangli and Kolhapur were affected by floods. In 2005, 230 per cent rain was recorded in the catchment areas of the rivers flowing through Sangli district in 31 days. However, now in nine days, 758 per cent rain was registered. Combine this with the discharge from the dams. The rivers were not in a position to hold so much water. The rivers received much more water than their capacity. There was clearly excess rain and the rivers were not in a position to hold them,” he said.

Besides the massive rain, Pathak said, the simultaneous discharge from smaller and bigger dams, including Koyna, Warna and Panchganga, led to flooding of Krishna river and other rivers flowing in Sangli and Kolhapur. “A major part of the Sangli district is located on the Krishna river,” he said. Pathak said that according to historical records, Sangli has seen floods in 1853, 1856, 1914, 1962 and 2005. “These records are available with Miraj Historical Research,” he said.