Flood fury linked to late opening of lthai barrage
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, August 23: The intensity of the flood that ravaged and continues to ravage the four valley districts of Manipur may have been less if only the authority of the National Hydro-Electric Project (NHPC), which operates the Loktak Project, had opened the Ithai barrage a little earlier.

Disclosing this, a highly placed source said that the State Irrigation and Flood Control Department had asked the Chief Engineer of NHPC to open the Ithai barrage in advance.

However for reasons best known to the NHPC authority sluice gates of the Ithai barrage were not opened on time, said the source.

Taking the rainfall record into consideration at the catchment areas and the rising water level of the rivers, IFCD had asked NHPC to open the all the five sluice gates of Ithai barrage on August 10 and 11.However the NHPC resorted to fully opening all the 5 sluice gates only on August 13, by which time it was already too late, the source further said.

As per records available, three gates of the barrage were partly opened on August 12 at 8 am.

Gate numbers 2 and 4 were opened at 3.5 m level while gate number 3 was opened at 5.5 m level.

On the day, that is August 13, the five gates of the barrage were opened, the water level at Loktak Lake (power channel) was 768.9 m while the level at Ithai barrage was 769.01m.Going further, the source said that there is lack of proper coordination between the IFCD and NHPC on matters pertaining to weather report.

Even though Doordarshan had predicted heavy shower in the North East on August 10, IFCD and NHPC authorities did not deem it fit to discuss the matter together to take up joint efforts.

The source further said that a Gate Opening Policy should be struck up between the State Government and the NHPC.

The water discharge capacity from the Ithai barrage, once the five sluice gates are fully opened together, is 566 cubic litre per second.

If the sluice gates were fully opened on August 10 or 11 the rising water level at the rivers would have receded appreciably.

On the other hand there is the pressing need for the State Government to open its own Meteorology Department, said the source.

On August II the rainfall recorded in Manipur was approximately 106.3 mm in the morning while in the evening the rainfall was recorded at 27.4 mm.

On August 12, the water level at all the major river was running above the danger mark.

The next day, that is, August 13 the river embankments started breaching.

By August 16 river banks caved in along at 47 points in the 20 river flowing through the State leading to an unprecedented flood.

Giving more details the source said that when the water level at Loktak touches the -768.5 m mark the water reservoir capacity is 518.75 million cubic litres.

NHPC was so obsessed with maintaining the water level of Loktak Lake to generate power that it forget the potential danger of flood, added the source.

As of today the water level at Loktak Lake (power channel) is 769.43 m while the level at Ithai barrage it is 769.09 m.