Govt signs USD 250 million loan agreement for 2nd phase of dam safety project

NEW DELHI, Aug 4: In order to enhance water security in the country and support sustainable development, India signed a USD 250 million loan agreement with the World Bank on Wednesday for the second phase of Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project to make existing dams safe and resilient across the country, a statement said.

This new scheme will strengthen dam safety initiatives taken by the government through physical rehabilitation of selected dams by addressing various concerns to improve safety and operational performance, institutional strengthening in various ways, incidental revenue generation for sustainable operation and maintenance of dams.

The Jal Shakti Ministry said 10 states — Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu — and the Central Water Commission attended the loan signing ceremony.

The agreement was signed by Rajat Kumar Mishra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India. The Ministry of Jal Shakti was represented by Debashree Mukherjee, Additional Secretary and Junaid Ahmad, country Director, India on behalf of the World Bank as well as official representatives of the states concerned.

“In order to enhance water security in the country and support sustainable development, the Government of India today signed a USD 250 million loan agreement with the World Bank for the Second Phase of Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP Phase II) to make existing dams and communities safe and resilient across India,” the statement said.

The scheme is designed to infuse global know-how, innovative technologies in dam safety, the ministry said.

Another major innovation envisaged under the project, that is likely to transform dam safety management in the country, is the introduction of a risk-based approach to dam asset management that will help to effectively allocate financial resources towards priority dam safety needs.

Also, the scheme implementation will equip the Indian dam owners to gear up their human resources to comprehensively handle many important activities envisaged in proposed Dam Safety Legislation.

The balance of USD 250 million external funding from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is under consideration, the statement added.

The scheme has the participation of 19 states and three central agencies, it said.

The budget outlay for both phases is Rs 10,211 crore for an implementation period of 10 years. The scheme will be implemented in two phases, each of six years’ duration, with two years overlap.

The programme will enable states and dam owners to extend these safety protocols and activities beyond the selected dams to all other dams within their jurisdiction, overall enhancing the culture of dam safety in the country.

This programme complements the provisions in the Dam Safety Bill 2019, by ensuring capacity building of the dam owners as well as the proposed regulators, as well as creating necessary protocols for dam safety.

“It is likely to generate employment opportunities equivalent to approximately 10,00,000 person days for unskilled workers, and 2,50,000 person days for working professionals,” it said.

India ranks third globally after China and the US, with 5,334 large dams in operation. In addition, about 411 dams are under construction at present. There are also several thousand smaller dams.

These dams are vital for ensuring the water security of the country. Indian dams and reservoirs play an important role in the economic and agricultural growth of our country by storing approximately 300 billion cubic metre of water annually.

According to the statement, these dams present a major responsibility in terms of asset management and safety. Due to deferred maintenance and other health issues, these dams have associated risks in case of failure. The consequences of dam failure can be catastrophic, in terms of loss of human life and property, and damage to ecology, it said.

The first phase of the DRIP programme, which covered 223 dams in seven states, improved the safety and operational performance of selected dams, along with institutional strengthening through a system wide management approach, was closed in March this year.

In order to carry forward the momentum gained through ongoing DRIP, and expand it vertically and horizontally, the new Scheme, DRIP Phase II, co-financed by World Bank (WB) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with USD 250 million each, covers large dams in 19 states of the country, the statement added. (PTI)