UN report on Ageing Dams

United Nations have released its report titled ‘Ageing water infrastructure: An emerging global risk’ on the ageing of the dams in India. The report was compiled by compiled by United Nations University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health. The analysis was done on the dam decommissioning or ageing from the USA, Canada, France, Japan, India, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Findings of the report

  • The report highlights that, some thousand large dams in India will be around 50 years old in 2025.
  • It warns that such aging structures across the world pose a growing threat.
  • The report also notes that, by 2050 most people on Earth will live downstream of the thousands of dams that were built in the 20th century.
  • As per the report, 58700 large dams worldwide were constructed in between 1930 and 1970. Those dams have the design life of 50 to 100 years.
  • Report also highlights that, the world will witness another large dam-building revolution like it was in mid-20th century. But these dams will then be showing their age.
  • It highlights, 32,716 large dams which accounts for 55 percent of the world’s total are found in four Asian countries namely China, India, Japan, and South Korea.
  • Approximately 3.5 million people are at risk if India’s Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala will fail. The dam was built over 100 years ago. It is constructed with concrete ‘surkhi’ which is a combination of limestone and burnt brick powder.

What are the ageing signs?

Some of the signs of ageing include:

  1. Increase in the cases of dam failures,
  2. Increasing costs of dam repair and maintenance,
  3. Increase in the reservoir sedimentation, and
  4. Loss of functionality and effectiveness of the dams “strongly interconnected” manifestations.

Mullaperiyaru Dam

It is a masonry gravity dam on the Periyar River in Kerala. It is located 881 m above mean sea level. It stands on the Cardamom Hills of the Western Ghats in Idukki District of Kerala. The dam was constructed between 1887 and 1895 by John Pennycuick. The Periyar National Park is alsp located around the dam’s reservoir. It is built at the confluence of Mullayar and Periyar rivers. The dam is located on the river Periyar in Kerala but is operated and maintained by Tamil Nadu.

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