‘No guidelines on studying backwater impact of dams'

Press Trust of India New Delhi | Updated on February 15, 2011 Published on February 15, 2011

The Central Water Commission has said it has no “principles or guidelines” for conducting study on the assessment of backwater flooding of dams and hydroelectric projects in the country.

Responding to the query of an RTI applicant who sought to know from the Commission the basis on which such studies are done in the country, the Commission said no such principles or guidelines are available with them.

It said the Commission's role is confined to the computation of backwater levels for specified projects for their given floodwater maps.

Backwater studies are important because they bring out possible impact of reservoir on the areas close to upstream which may be flooded because of the construction.

The Commission also refused to share the data about the impact of the controversial Almatti reservoir on the backwater area which was overruled by the Central Information Commission. The transparency panel held that larger public interest would be served in the disclosure of the data and hence it should be provided to the applicant.

In addition to seeking details of principles and guidelines governing the backwater studies, applicant Swarup Bhattacharya had also sought from the CWC a copy of the backwater impact study on the Almatti Dam.

CWC refusal

The CWC refused to share information saying it is a commercial document, hence exempted from disclosure under the Right to Information Act.

During the appeal before the CIC, the CWC said since the study was done by them for the Karnataka Government based on data provided by them, the information could not be disclosed. “The Commission is also of the view that the sought information is now held by the CWC, since it is a part of the study conducted by the CWC. The data has now become a part of the report of the CWC since it is part of the study... irrespective of who had supplied it,” the Information Commissioner, Ms Sushma Singh, held.

She said the disclosure of the information was in public interest and it should be disclosed.

In a ruling in December last year, the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) had allowed Karnataka, where the dam is being built, to increase the height of reservoir by five metres.

The increase in dam height has sparked concerns as people living in the 320 villages of backwater area of Kolhapur and Sangli district of Maharashtra fear that their it will result in flooding in their area.

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Published on February 15, 2011
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