High alert as Pulichintala project gate collapses

By Express News Service

GUNTUR/VIJAYAWADA:   A flood alert has been sounded at Prakasam Barrage in Vijayawada as the crest gate No. 16 of Dr KL Rao Sagar Pulichintala Project on Krishna river, located upstream of the barrage, collapsed. Consequently, a large quantity of water from Pulichintala is being released downstream. Flood discharge level at Prakasam Barrage is expected to cross 3.979 lakh cusecs by Thursday midnight and the first flood warning is likely to be issued.

When water discharge crosses 5.67 lakh cusecs, the second flood warning is issued. According to irrigation officials, inflows and outflows at the barrage were 1,12,939 cusecs and 1,03,250 cusecs respectively, at 6 pm on Thursday. The inflows are increasing rapidly as outflows at Pulichintala were 5,05,870 cusecs at 6 pm, which was getting inflows of 2.2 lakh cusecs from upstream.

It normally takes 8-12 hours for the floodwater released from Pulichintala to reach Prakasam Barrage. When the crest gate was washed away, the water storage level in the project was nearly 44 TMC. Around 3:30 am, the officials were lifting the crest gates of Pulichintala to release surplus water downstream. The gate No. 16 collapsed as the welding holding it to the dam structure gave away.

Water gushes out of the collapsed crest gate of Pulichintala project in Guntur
district on Thursday | Express

Areas along course of Krishna put on alert; NDRF team deployed

The hydraulic gate completely broke down due to heavy pressure of floodwater, was washed away. It all happened in a blink of an eye, the officials told Minister for Water Resources P Anil Kumar Yadav, who visited the project to take stock of the situation. A stop-lock arrangement is being made as an alternative and for the purpose around 5-6 lakh cusecs of water is being released from the project.

“Repair works of the 16th gate have been taken up on a war footing and we expect the alternative stop-lock arrangement will be in place by Friday afternoon. Experts from Polavaram have also been pressed into service. At present, flood discharge is 6 lakh cusecs downstream of the project as the water level needs to be low to facilitate installation of stop-lock,” he said. The full reservoir level of Pulichintala is 45 TMC and repairs can be done only after the water level in the project is below 10 TMC. The officials also lifted 14 other crest gates of Pulichintala to release floodwater downstream.

The minister and the officials felt that it was unfortunate that such a huge quantity of water had to be released into the sea as there is no other alternative. However, they are confident that water in the project will be replenished in the coming days with more inflows from upstream as the monsoon season is only halfway. Pulichintala Project Director Suryanarayana said a high-level expert committee has been constituted to look into the accident and measures have been taken to repair the gate at the earliest. A senior official of the Irrigation Department said initial reports indicated that it was a mechanical failure that caused the hydraulic gate to break down.

“Our main focus now is to complete the stop-lock arrangement at the earliest. We will be inserting 11 iron plates in the existing grooves at the 16th gate. It will stop the water leak. Till the new hydraulic gate is installed, the stop-lock arrangement will be in place,” the senior official said. Meanwhile, district administrations of Krishna and Guntur have put all the areas along the river course on a high alert. Krishna District Collector J Nivas directed officials to evacuate people from the low-lying areas along the river course to safer places. An NDRF team with 24 personnel has been kept on standby. The official machinery in Guntur district is also on high alert to face any eventuality.

Pre-dawn breach

  • 3:30 am Crest gate No. 16 collapses while being lifted
  • Officials suspect mechanical failure led to the collapse
  • Pulichintala held nearly 44 TMC of water at the time of breach
  • Stop-lock arrangement is being put in place
  • Water in the project should be below 10 TMC to install stop-lock
  • Outflows at Prakasam Barrage in Vijayawada were 1,33,939 cusecs at 7 pm on Thursday

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