Sikkim dam washed away in 10 minutes after flash flood: Official
At least 30 people have been reported missing and six bridges have been washed away in north Sikim since Tuesday night due to the flash floods
Sikkim’s biggest hydro power project Sikkim Urja (formerly Teesta Urja) has suffered massive damage due to the flash flood on Tuesday night as the dam and the bridge connecting the powerhouse have been washed away.
“The dam located at Chungthang got washed away in ten minutes just after 12 midnight. We also saw that the 200-metre-long bridge connecting the powerhouse has been washed away. The entire powerhouse has been submerged under water.” said Sunil Saraogi, the executive chairman of Sikkim Urja Limited (formerly: Teesta Urja Limited).
The 1,200 MW project on Teesta River located at Chungthang and Mangan in North Sikkim district had started making profit for the first time since last year only. The Sikkim government has 60.08 percent share in the project. The project valuation is around ₹25,000 crore. A run-of-the-river scheme, it utilises the available gross head of 800 metres. All the generating units were successfully commissioned in February 2017.
At least 30 people have been reported missing and six bridges have been washed away in north Sikim since Tuesday night due to the flash floods.
Speaking over phone, Saraogi said, “At 11.58pm on Tuesday, we got information from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). Immediately, our team went to the dam to open the gates. Before they could open, the flash flood hit them, and they ran away to save their lives. There were 12 to 13 people in the team and they somehow got saved on the other side of the dam and they would be evacuated by ITBP by 2 pm on Wednesday.”
“We are unable to reach the powerhouse. The entire team is stranded, finding it difficult to communicate. Roads are closed. We don’t know the extent of damage in the powerhouse at Mangan. No one could reach the powerhouse as the bridge connecting the dam had gone. Fortunately, no one is inside the powerhouse as all have come out,” he said.
Saraogi said that the project was running 120 percent of its capacity utilization.
“The dam and the bridge have to be rebuilt and the rebuilding cost would run in thousands of crores rupees. The losses would be thousands of crores,” he added.
As per the current shareholding structure of the company, Sikkim Urja Limited is a State Govt. Enterprise with Government of Sikkim holding 60.08 % stake through its investment company, Sikkim Power Investment Corporation Limited.
Earlier on Wednesday morning, officials said that three districts in Sikkim – Mangan (north Sikkim), Pakyong and Gangtok (east Sikkim) have been affectedby the flash floods. Mangan was the worst hit. Officials also said that the water level in the River Teesta was expected to cross the danger mark within a few hours. A flood alert was issued for some districts in north Bengal and Bangladesh.