SHILLONG, April 06: With concern being expressed by the Central Water Commission (CWC) on the safety of the Umiam dam, the State Government is now exploring the possibility of having alternate routes through which commuters can enter and leave Shillong.
“We are looking at the possibility of having multiple entry-exit points in the state. The Western bye-pass is becoming one and we are trying to look the VIP road and how we can invest more on it to ensure linkage to the city,” Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma said at the Assembly on Friday while replying to the debate on the Governor’s address.
Appreciating the concern raised by Congress legislator from Umroi, George B Lyngdoh that the life span of the dam has already expired, Conrad said that he had also brought this issue to the notice of the House when he was the Leader of Opposition during 2009-10.
On the dam safety rehabilitation, he said that the Central Water Commission is of the view that on account of the dam safety issue, an alternate road may be taken by the government up with utmost priority.
“However, the CWC also advised that traffic over the dam is to be diverted downstream of the Umiam Dam. The matter relating to diversion of traffic on Umiam dam was taken up by MeECL with the state government. Therefore now it is an issue we are concerned with,” Conrad said.
According to the Meghalaya State Development Report 2008, the Umiam Reservoir has the projected life span of 400 years, with a gross storage capacity of 1, 47,000 acre feet.
But as the dead storage capacity has already been silted up, the life of the reservoir, earlier estimated at 400 years, would be reduced to about 65 years only if the present rate of siltation is not checked, the report said.
The Chief Minister further informed that the Meghalaya Energy Corporation (MeECL) had also conducted the traffic vibration measurement study on the Umiam concrete dam on October 2012, through the Central Water and Power Research Station (CWPRS), Pune.
“The findings indicated that the vibration levels are very low, insignificant and within a safe limit,” he said while quoting the report of the CWPRC.
However, Conrad said that the report of the CWPRC suggests that it is not advisable to have continuous vibration due to heavy traffic on such an important structure and had also suggested the diversion of traffic on the dam.
“This will also help in taking up maintenance work on the dam without any hindrance to traffic,” he said while assuring that the government is looking at multiple options and it would ensure that the matter is expedited.