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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

‘Could have avoided Maharashtra floods’: Madhav Gadgil

If there was a judicious release of water from the dams, the current situation could have been avoided or at least the intensity of it could have been reduced significantly, Madhav Gadgil said.

mumbai Updated: Aug 13, 2019 02:59 IST
Parth Welankar
Parth Welankar
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Eminent ecologist Madhav Gadgil has blamed “mismanagement” in the release of water from major dams such as Koyna, Warna and Radhanagari in western Maharashtra for widespread floods in Sangli and Kolhapur districts.
Eminent ecologist Madhav Gadgil has blamed “mismanagement” in the release of water from major dams such as Koyna, Warna and Radhanagari in western Maharashtra for widespread floods in Sangli and Kolhapur districts. (Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)
         

Eminent ecologist Madhav Gadgil has blamed “mismanagement” in the release of water from major dams such as Koyna, Warna and Radhanagari in western Maharashtra for widespread floods in Sangli and Kolhapur districts. Last year, he had blamed the “unscientific management” of dams in Kerala which had led to floods killing more than 450 people. Gadgil, who had headed the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, spoke to Parth Welankar about the recent floods in Maharashtra. Edited excerpts: 

What is your view on the recent report by the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers, and People (SANDRP), which states that mismanagement in releasing water from the Koyna, Radhanagari, Warna and other dams led to the floods in Sangli and Kolhapur districts?

The reasons for floods mentioned in the SANDRP report are completely true. While I have not read the complete report, the points that mention about the fact as to why were the dams full when monsoon is just about halfway through and IMD (India Meteorological Department) has predicted much higher rainfall in the remaining part of the monsoon, is a very valid question to ask. This clearly exposes the mismanagement. If the authorities would have been alert and learned about the possible situations, we could have avoided the causalities caused due to the floods.

What is your analysis of the situation? What, according to you, resulted in these floods?

The release of water from the nearby dams was done in an uncalculated manner which resulted in huge cusecs of water being released from the dams. Besides this, heavy rainfall resulted in such severe floods. If there was a judicious release of water from the dams, the current situation could have been avoided or, at least, the intensity of it could have been reduced significantly.

In your view, to what extent was human error responsible for the floods in these three districts?

I am not a hydrologist by profession. However, one thing is absolutely clear that mismanagement in releasing of water from the dams was one of the major reasons behind the floods. A similar case can be cited from the Kerala floods last year in which huge amounts of water were released from dams leading to severe floods in the state. Such human negligence which could have been avoided resulted into a huge loss of life and public property.

What is the answer to such situations?

It is the responsibility of the administration to keep a judicious supervision as far as the release of the water from the dams is concerned. It must ensure that human error does not lead to such terrifying flood situations as that of Kolhapur, Satara and Sangli.

First Published: Aug 13, 2019 00:04 IST

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