Maharashtra govt mulls satellite mapping of major dams, panel to study changing weather patterns

MUMBAI : IN THE aftermath of the flood in western Maharashtra, the government plans to conduct satellite mapping of all dams to get real-time data on their water levels. Also, a four-member committee will be set up to study in detail the changing weather patterns that result in floods.

“Taking lessons from the flood in Sangli and Kolhapur, the government wants to go for satellite mapping of dams. The current weather forecast method does not provide real-time data on how much it would actually rain,” said Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan. At present, IMD only forecasts that rainfall would either be low, moderate to intense and doesn’t spell out the quantum.

The committee, comprising water management experts as well as officials from the state water resources department and the India Meteorological Department, has been tasked to conduct a detailed study and submit a report.

According to the preliminary report received by the government, high and intense rainfall in catchment areas on led to flood in western Maharashtra. The report stated that while rainfall in Sangli was 605 per cent more than the average, the figure was 415 per cent for Kolhapur and 524 per cent for Satara. The report also stated that dams in Maharashtra — 3,267 in all — or across India are essentially meant for water storage. They are not designed for flood management.

Mahajan maintained that between June 1 and October 30, reservoirs are monitored every 15 days to check the level of water. On NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s claim that Karnataka was asked to discharge water from Almatti dam only after he spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, resulting in water levels going down in flooded western Maharashtra, Mahajan said: “Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has been in constant touch with his counterpart in Karnataka, B S Yediyurappa, to discuss water discharge from Almatti dam. His request was immediately reciprocated.”

“Fadnavis was communicating directly with the PM, Home Minister Amit Shah and the Karnataka CM… If Pawar wants to take the credit for things which he has not done, we have no problems. But then where were the NCP leaders when it came to lending a helping hand? I waded through neck-deep water to reach out to the people who were stranded. Show us one NCP leader who did the same. They stood like distant spectators,” he added.