With heavy rains and flash floods devastating Himachal Pradesh, Chief Secretary Prabodh Saxena on Friday pitched for stringent action against dam authorities not following water release guidelines, saying "it is time to send notices and not letters or reminders".
Chairing a meeting on safety issues regarding the discharge of water from dams, Saxena said that though a part of the devastation was natural but responsibility must also be fixed for the failure of the dam authorities in complying with relevant provisions of the Dam Safety Act (DSA) and the Central Water Commission (CWC) guidelines of 2015.
Strengthening of early warning system was stressed after 24 students from Andhra Pradesh were washed away as water from the Larji Dam was discharged without prior warning in 2014, he said, adding that the Act provides for surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified reservoirs.
However, many dam authorities have failed in fulfilling their duties, resulting in the damage to public and private property, agricultural produce, and road networks, he said.
"The time for persuasion and dialogues was over and we should not shy away from taking stringent action against the defaulters," he said, according to a statement issued here.
"It is time to send notices and not letters or reminders," the chief secretary told the officers and directed them prepare a detailed report on the damage caused due to the negligence of the dam authorities and take legal action against them.
There are 16 dams in the state.
He stated that the recent crisis in the state downstream the reservoirs can be attributed towards the failure of the dam safety check, which was either neglected or was not done as per the standard guidelines of the DSA.
He said that there are relevant provisions under the DSA, like setting up of early warning systems, water release guidelines, setting up of control rooms, reservoir maintenance, emergency action plan and better communication between dam sites and power house which must be implemented on the ground.
Underlining the need for risk assessment of the dams on a regular basis and ensuring that dam safety units are functional round-the-clock, the chief secretary pitched for effective functioning of the state committee on dam safety and state dam safety organisation.
Seventy-five people have been killed in rain-battered Himachal Pradesh in the past few days.
Since the onset of the monsoon on June 24, 217 persons have died in rain-related incidents in Himachal Pradesh and 11,301 houses have been partially or completely damaged, according to the state emergency operation centre.
A total of 506 roads are still closed in the state and 408 transformers and 149 water supply schemes have been disrupted.
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