VIJAYAWADA: As the Godavari river witnessed heavy floods with an expected maximum discharge ranging from 28-30 lakh cusecs of water from Sir Arthur Cotton barrage downstream into the sea, water resources authorities are confident that the barrage will be safe and can even withstand the impact of storage and discharge of such a huge quantity of water.
Though the authorities are tensed as the river continues to receive heavy inflows, as the water level at Bhadrachalam reached 68 feet by late evening after reaching the highest level at 72 ft and continuing at that level all through the day, there is a sense of relief as water level at Cotton Barrage in Dowleswaram will start receding with a gap of 18 hours from the time of water started receding in Bhadrachalam.
According to the Central Water Commission authorities, water level at the Cotton Barrage recorded 21.3 feet with a discharge of nearly 25 lakh cusecs of water downstream at 8.00 pm and by Sunday and water level at the Cotton Barrage is likely to recede after raising with an expected discharge of 28 lakh cusecs of water.
The water resources authorities maintain that they carry out regular maintenance works to the Cotton Barrage and other important installations before commencement of Godavari flood season during July and rule out any issues related to the barrage. Moreover, the Cotton Barrage is set up in four arms separated by islands with 175 gates and these gates are vertical and relatively less in weight. These gates are lifted with the help of a crane and in case of any difficulty to lift them mechanically, four persons can lift each gate unlike the radial gates which are installed in new projects which weigh more in the range of 200 to 250 tonnes and have no chance to manually lift them.
Fortunately, there are no major instances of malfunctioning of gates at the Cotton Barrage in the recent past.
AP water resources engineer-in-chief C. Narayana Reddy said, “We are expecting the maximum discharge at Sir Arthur Cotton Barrage to be 28-30 lakh cusecs of water and we are confident that the barrage can withstand such a pressure.”
However, the water resources authorities drew flak for poor maintenance of flood banks as they breached in small portions due to transport of illegally mined sand on Godavari riverbed while some people did the same for movement of their cattle ignoring how dangerous their act could become once the river gets heavy floods. There are allegations that some religious structures are also surfacing on the berms of the flood banks.
On the other hand, except two wheelers and vehicles moving for health emergency issues, the authorities are not allowing vehicles to ply on Cotton Barrage as the third flood warning level is in force and they are also shifting people from low-lying areas to relief camps for safety.
Meanwhile, minister for water resources Ambati Rambabu, along with special officer H. Arun Kumar and East Godavari district collector K. Madhavi Latha, inspected the Cotton Barrage and took stock of the flood situation and enquired about the condition of flood banks and their safety levels and instructed the officials to take up patrolling in low-lying areas along the course of river to alert the people in case of any trouble....