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Check dams ineffective -- expert

EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE


VADODARA, DEC 11: Small might not be necessarily beautiful when it comes to the size of dams. Check dams constructed in the state to deal with the drought-like conditions have not been very effective in dealing with the scarcity conditions.

Professor V Subramanian of the School of Environmental Studies in the Jawaharlal Nehru University said this while speaking to newsmen. According to Subramanian, the check dams were built indiscriminately without much planning.

He said that the failure of rainfalls in the 1999 monsoon gave rise to the notion that such dams would work.

``However, lack of planning led to a situation where, areas downstream the check dams went without water. The end result being that a good idea went a bad way,'' Subramanian said. Subramanian has also been on the Narmada Commission and committees of the World Commission for Large Dams.

He added that figures indicated that small dams had preserved less water after rainfall in the state.

``The percentage of water accumulated as compared to their total capacity was very less in small dams as compared to that of big ones,'' Subramanian observed.

He pointed out that a small dam was filled only to about 20 to 25 per cent of its capacity while a large dam stored between 60 to 75 per cent of its capacity. Besides, large dams had the capacity to face environmental changes and vagaries of nature.

The professor also noted that large dams were necessary for generation of energy which is an important aspect in a country like India. ``Small dams generate limited amount of electricity. This would be grossly insufficient for a country like ours where power shortage is a major handicap for development,'' he added.

Commenting on the opposition to Sardar Sarovar, Subramanian said that the protests were triggered by lack of action for resettlement. ``Large dams are required, but resettlement needs to be taken care of,'' he said.

Subramanian noted that it is wrong for the developed countries to oppose the construction of large dams. ``They have reached a particular level of development and can now speak against others. Even they paid the price for development, but want others to stop from doing so. We have some very basic issues to attend to before we start talking about other things like environment,'' Subramanian said.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

 

     
   
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