As NDSA team inspects piers that sank, Medigadda Barrage officials file police complaint alleging sabotage

Officials of L&T, the firm in-charge of maintenance of the barrage, said repairs would begin soon, and there was no threat to the structure.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Oct 24, 2023 | 6:13 PMUpdatedOct 24, 2023 | 6:13 PM

Medigadda barrage sinking

A six-member, high-power technical team headed by National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA) chairman Anil Jain on Tuesday, 24 October, made a thorough inspection of the Medigadda (Lakshmi) Barrage, which is part of the Telangana government’s flagship project, Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme (KLIS), after reports that its piers sank slightly into the ground on Saturday.

The team, after conferring with the state government officials on various aspects of dam safety, visited the project at Ambatpally in the Jaishankar Bhupalpally district.

Related: Here’s all you need to know about ‘sinking’ Medigadda Barrage pillars

Committee inspected cracks in pillars

The committee, among others, inspected the cracks that had developed at pillar numbers 18 to 21 and the possible factors that may have led to the damage. The committee is expected to submit a report to the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti on its findings soon.

The state government officials who accompanied the NDSA team included Irrigation Engineer-in-Chief N Venkateswarlu and the representatives of engineering and construction firm L&T, who were the contractors for the dam and its maintenance.

After the pier of the barrage sank last Saturday, the state government came under flak.

Congress state unit president A Revanth Reddy sought an inquiry by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). As the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) for the Assembly elections was in force, the Governor, he said, could order an inquiry.

Taking a serious view of the sinking of the pier, BJP state president and Union Minister G Kishan Reddy dashed off a letter to Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat urging him to order an immediate inquiry into the mishap.

He raised concerns over the quality of the construction of the barrage and wanted a safety audit done immediately. He expressed concern over the people who live in downstream villages.

Related: Congress seeks inquiry into sinking; engineering blunder, says BJP

Barrage officials filed complaint

Meanwhile, in an interesting twist, the Medigadda Barrage officials filed a complaint with the Mahadevpur police suggesting sabotage as the reason for the sinking of the pillars.

They suspected the role of unknown offenders for the mishap, implying that the dam did not suffer from quality deficiency as was alleged by the Opposition political parties.

The Mahadevpur police registered a case based on a complaint lodged by Assistant Executive Engineer A Ravikanth of Irrigation Sub-Division No 4 of Ambatpally in Bhupalpally district.

The FIR, No 174/2023, was filed under sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) relating to offence of mischief causing damage to public property, and Section 3 of the Prevention Damage to Public Property (PDPP) Act, 1984, that pertains to vandalism and destruction of public assets.

In his complaint, Ravikanth said that he heard a loud sound at the Medigadda Barrage at 6.30 pm on 21 October,  and he inspected the barrage immediately along the road bridge with Bidyuth Debnath, foreman of L&T, PES (JV).

Also read: Average assets of a Telangana MLA is over ₹13 crore: Report

What the complaint says

He said that they found some damage at pier numbers 19, 20, and 21 of block No 7 on the left bank.

“The slabs and parapet wall on pier number 20 appeared to have sunk (Maharashtra side). Till then the road bridge on the barrage was intact, and the general public and vehicular traffic were moving normally,” he said in the complaint.

He said he suspected that unknown offenders may have damaged the project.

On Saturday evening, soon after the officials noticed the sinking of the piers, they let the water downstream immediately after opening all the gates to prevent further damage to the project.

The police have beefed up security at the dam since then and are not allowing anyone near the barrage.

The state government officials are understood to have concluded that only the pier had suffered the damage but were unable to pinpoint what led to it.

The L&T officials, who also visited the project, said that they would take up repair works soon and claimed that there was no immediate threat to the barrage.