Tiware dam breach: Irrigation officials ignored warning signs, allege locals

According to local residents and public representatives Tiware dam in Chiplun taluka of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra had developed cracks, but officials of the irrigation department did not act despite repeated warnings.

At least 14 people were killed and ten are missing after the Tiware dam breach incident in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra on Wednesday.

On Wednesday evening when the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) stopped rescue and search operations due to dark, 14 bodies were recovered.

The rescuers will resume the search operations once again on Thursday morning.

“After complaints from the villagers, I had inspected the dam a few days ago and noticed there are cracks. I informed this to the administration, but they did not take any action,” said, Sadanand Chavan, member of legislative assembly (MLA), Chiplun.

Locals said major cracks were seen first at least six months ago when they informed the irrigation department officials about the breach. “However, there was confusion among the irrigation department officials about the jurisdiction of the dam, leading to no action,” said Abhijit Chavan, who lost his brother and other family members in the incident.

As many as 12 houses from Bhendewadi hamlet swept away while seven villages were affected due to the dam breach, which caused a flood-like situation in downstream areas.

Two teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were involved in search and rescue operations along with district administration and police personnel.

Girish Mahajan, Maharashtra water resource minister, accepted that the locals had complained to the dam to the irrigation department officials about the cracks on the wall of the dam.

“The villagers had complained about leakages. Following the complaints, the irrigation department officials told me that they carried out repair work also. However, I have ordered inquiry to find out why and how the incident happened,” said Mahajan.

The probe will be conducted by experts, who will submit a report at the earliest, he added

Mahajan also announced ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh each to the kin of deceased in the incident.

“The dam that breached was built around 14 years ago,” said Mahajan.

Vishal Gaikwad, Ratnagiri’s additional superintendent of police, said, “The entire wall of the dam has been completely demolished by a strong force of water collected in the rivulet from numerous streams in the mountainous region.”

“In the flooding that caused, houses in Bhendewadi hamlet, located around 300 meters from the dam were washed away. We launched a search and rescue around midnight. The NDRF personnel joined us in the morning (Wednesday),” he added.

When asked whether the 20-year-old the dam was due for repairs and only temporary measure had been taken, Ratnagiri district collector Sunil Chavan said, “Our priority right now is search, rescue and safety of people. But these aspects will certainly be probed.”

First Published:
Jul 04, 2019 16:15 IST

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