Aditya Singh Parmar, DNA | Last Modified - Jul 21, 2011, 07:59 AM IST
Indore: More and more evidence is surfacing to suggest that the Patalpani tragedy that claimed three lives on July 17 was man-made rather than natural calamity.
Open flood gates of Nakheri dam canal system adjacent to the Malendi River and large-scale leakage caused sudden surge of water at the falls, sweeping away the victims.
The water level rose in the river within 30 seconds, providing little opportunity for a family of four and their friend to reach for safety. Choral canal project chairman Dharmchandra Kashyap claimed that the water from Nakheri dam is supplied through canals to 27 villages near Patalpani. The canal crosses the Malendi river before running parallel to it for nearly 22 km.
"Over 40 per cent of the water is lost due to leakages," Kashyap said, adding the water resources department releases a little amount for the canal's upkeep.
A closer look at the canal system confirms that the canal crosses the Malendi river at around 1.5 km from Patalpani. When the canal is brimming, water leaks out into the river at the junction as the aqua duct is narrow.
A flood gate on the canal, between villages Malendi and Borkhedi was wide open. Water from the gate directly gushes into the Malendi river flowing parallel to the canal.
Water resources department sub engineer Rajesh Mishra told DNA, " seepage loss occurs as farmers break and cut canal. They sometimes remove the flood gate."
Like electricity, water theft committed by rural folk is difficult to stop. The Choral dam project including Nakheri has a 40-km open canal. Watch is kept by irrigation department chowkidars, he added.
Gaurav Patidar, the youth who shot the sensational video showing the victims being swept away in the floods, said,
"The entire episode was over in 30-seconds with water rushing in, covering a distance of 150-ft in 30 seconds. Had we got one minute we could have extended the rope and saved lives".
People living in the locality claim that they never saw such an intensity of flashflood as was seen on July 17. It takes around 30 minutes for the flash floods to form if it is caused by cloud burst.
Department executive engineer SS Geherwar denied possibilities of water from Nakheri entering the Malendi river but confirmed the water leakage. "Maintenance of the canal is the responsibility of local bodies," he said.
Water is usually let out into the canal from Nakheri dam in November- December and during summers.