Bhubaneswar, Feb 13 (PTI) The Centre has decided to raise the water retaining capacity of Hirakud dam in Odisha to 24 lakh cusecs from the existing 15 lakh cusecs, Union Water Resources Secretary U P Singh said on Wednesday.

“It has been decided to increase the water retaining capacity of the Hirakud dam from the existing 15 lakh to 24 lakh cusecs,” Singh said at the International Dam Safety Conference-2019 here.

Efforts are also on for automatic functioning of Hirakud dam, which is one of the longest earthen dams in the world, he said adding that the dam over Mahanadi river is safe.

Inaugurating the conference, Odisha’s Water Resources Minister Niranjan Pujari said about 80 per cent of our large dams are over 25 years old. About 209 dams are over 100 years old and were built when design practices and safety norms were much below the current design and safety norms.

Several of these dams are experiencing distress and need attention for ensuring their structural safety and operational efficiency, he said adding dams also need regular check-up like human body.

The Conference is a joint initiative of the Union Government, Government of Odisha and the World Bank under aegis of the ongoing World Bank assisted Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP).

In Odisha, 26 large dams are covered under DRIP for rehabilitation including construction of an additional spill way for the Hirakud dam to address the hydrological safety at a cost of about Rs 600 crore, said an official.

In 2012, the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) was initiated with a duration of 6 years and financial outlay of Rs 2,100 crore. Presently, DRIP covers rehabilitation of 198 large dam projects located in seven states – Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and Uttarakhand.

Government has revised this financial outlay to Rs 3,466 crore and extended the duration by two years to complete the ongoing project activities, he said.

In addition to rehabilitation of selected dams, DRIP also involves Institutional Strengthening and Project Management in the ten Implementing Agencies as well as nine academic institutions primarily aimed at sustained dam safety management.

Considering the success of the ongoing DRIP, the government proposed Phase-II and Phase-III of DRIP with a financial outlay of over Rs 10,221.0 crore to rehabilitate around 700 dams, the official said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.