ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Unacceptable Cost of Dams

Hussain Master, Suniti S R, Rajendra Ravi, Ramakrishna Raju, Anand Mazgaonkar, Vimal Bhai, Madhuresh Kumar National Alliance of People's Movements

The rising tension, passion and stray incidents of violence in Kerala and Tamil Nadu over the Mullaperiyar dam have once again brought the focus on water conflicts in the country, control over natural resources of the communities and on the safety of dams. Unfortunately, the debate fails to address the larger issue of effective management of water resources and community’s control over water and natural resources.

A fair number of India’s dams are over 100 years old. A list compiled by the Central Water Commission (CWC) shows at least 114 dams in this category. There are roughly 400 dams which are 50-100 years old. According to the Madhya Pradesh government, the state has 168 dams which can be called “distressed dams”, out of which only 63 are less than 50 years old. Since 1917, 29 dams have reportedly been damaged. In 2002, the Jamunia dam in Madhya Pradesh was breached. Such breaches of dams have affected the lives and property of hundreds of people, and, the number of those killed and injured in such accidents has reached thousands. Mullaperiyar is one such ageing dam and fears of a further breach and damage have increased in recent times with the seismic activity in the region.

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