Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Sambalpur, Aug 20:
Hirakud dam authorities have started work on construction of two more spillways to reduce pressure on the existing spillways and ensure the longevity of the dam and protect Sambalpur town from the perennial threat of flood.
Funded by the World Bank, the first phase of the project has already started taking shape and drilling is being carried out on one side of the dam to collect soil samples. The construction of the additional spillway would start after identifying the right place based on soil test reports.
“The spillway needs to be placed on a hard foundation like a rock. We wouldn’t be able to build them on natural soil given its weight. We are conducting soil tests as per the Dam Rehabilitation and Implementation Project to identify the level of earth where the rock foundation can be found,” said Chief Engineer of the dam Biswajit Mohanty.
“We need these spillways from the safety point of view. We need to be able to drain out 24 cusecs of water per second. Sambalpur witnesses flood-like situation whenever 30 gates of the Hirakud Reservoir are opened and 8 lakh cusecs of water is released. If 5 to 6 lakh cusecs of water could be released from another way, the effect of the flood could be reduced remarkably in Sambalpur,” Mohanty added.
As of now, there are 98 gates, including 64 sluice-gates and 34 crest-gated spillways, in the dam. The new spillways will raise the flood water discharge capacity of Hirakud dam to 24 lakh cusecs of water per second from the existing 15 lakh cusec.
While the new construction won’t require any displacement of population as it has its own land there, it would have to acquire more land at the other end.
It may be noted that on April 14, a 12-member team headed by Dr BRK Pillai, Director of Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) and representatives from the World Bank and Central Water Commission (CWC) had visited the dam site and selected two locations on the right dyke and another two on the left side for the construction of the spillways.