Durgapur barrage gate repair starts
Work to restore the damaged gate at Durgapur Barrage on Damodar river started around 2pm on Wednesday after 100 hours went into trying to drain the riverbed at the upper catchment area.
Irrigation department officials said the restoration, during which they would either replace or repair the damaged gate, would take at least 20 hours. Only then can they ask the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) to release water from its dams in Jharkhand.
“The water will reach the barrage in phases and it will take at least 24 hours to get water to the required level to supply it to water treatment and power plants,” said an irrigation department official.
Gate 31 of the six-decade-old barrage got twisted on Saturday from water pressure, resulting in water gushing out to the lower catchment area. Severe water supply crisis and disruption in power generation followed.
Engineers and technicians of the irrigation department and SAIL’s Durgapur Steel Plant have joined hands to carry out the restoration. First, they set up temporary barricades with sandbags and soil near the damaged gate and later pumped out the water that had accumulated between the gate and the barricade. The irrigation department took the help of heavy-duty pumps from the Eastern Coalfields to drain out water that had accumulated near the gate.
Some structural engineers in Durgapur said the flow of water could have been stopped much earlier if temporary barricades using iron sheets had been put up to stop the flow of water.
“Using only sandbags to stop the flow in the Damodar when monsoon has ended late was poor judgement. Along with sandbags, they should have used iron sheets for the job,” said an engineer.
He added that pumps should have been used simultaneously while setting up the barricade. “That could have also saved time,” he added.
As the crisis clocked more than 100 hours and the supply of water remained far less than the demand, people in the towns of Durgapur and Bankura put up roadblocks in several areas demanding water. Many took to social media to vent their ire against the administration.
In Ward 17 of Durgapur, people manhandled workers of the local civic body when they reached the area with only one tanker.
“What will we do with only one tanker? We are at least 400 people waiting here since morning for water and the administration has sent only one tanker,” said Laltu Biswas, a resident.
A tanker can carry around 3,000 litres of water and scenes of scuffling among people while collecting water from tankers have been reported in several areas of Durgapur.
The scene was no different in Bankura. People demonstrated with empty buckets to demand water.
“I have two aged people and one baby at home. We have been buying water since Saturday. I do not know how long we can afford to buy costly packaged drinking water for domestic use,” said Shipra Chatterjee, a resident in Bankura town. She said the tankers were inadequate to meet the demand of the people.