The Bhatsa project, which supplies more than 50 per cent of Mumbai’s drinking water, has developed a major leak due to which large quantities of water are being wasted, but efforts are on to repair and strengthen the dam, officials said.
Irrigation department head V K Gautam, who visited the spot a few weeks ago, said that administrative approvals have been granted for the work and the tendering process is on.
Gautam said, “Bhatsa dam is the largest supplier of water to Mumbai. I went with my chief engineer 100 metres under the dam wall to inspect the leakage and it is huge. We have to act soon and protect the dam.”
Mumbai gets its water supply from Bhatsa, Upper Vaitarna, Middle Vaitarna, Modak Sagar, Tansa, Vehar and Tulsi lakes. Of these, Bhatsa and Upper Vaitarna are owned by the irrigation department of the Maharashtra government and the rest by BMC.
Bhatsa is 105 km from Mumbai, located in Shahapur tehsil of Thane district. The project is built at the confluence of Bhatsa and Chorana river in Ulhas basin. The length of the dam is 959 metres and water storage capacity is 142.07 metres.
Yogesh Patil, the executive engineer of Bhatsa project, said, “Bhatsa is a masonry dam. The work started in 1969 and phase 1 was completed in 1981. The second phase was started in 1995 and completed in 2005. As per the present norms, the dam must be concrete, but this is a masonry one. The lime and cement mortar has leached out due water pressure and we had leakage up to 1 lakh litre per minute. We used state government funds and reduced it to 55,000 litres per minute. The project cost is around Rs 114 crore. We will concretise the dam and increase its life.”
The repairs and strengthening of the dam is being done with aid from the World Bank, said Patil.The firm that bags the repair contract will get three years to complete the project.
Irrigation department officials said that the Dam Safety Review Panel (DSRP) constituted by the Central Water Commission of Government of India inspected and reviewed Bhatsa dam on January 10 last year and recommended measures to improve its safety and performance.