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World Bank approves $250 million project to make existing dams safe and resilient across India

  • World Bank approves $250 million project to make existing dams safe and resilient across India

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The World Bank
The World Bank Group has two goals, to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity in a sustainable way
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The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a $250 million project to improve the safety and performance of existing dams across various states of India.

India is home to over 5000 large dams with a storage capacity of more than 300 billion cubic meters. Rainfall, which occurs mainly in intense and unpredictable downpours within short monsoon seasons, is of high temporal and spatial variability and does not meet year-round irrigation and other water demands. Considering this, storage of water in dams is essential for the country’s economic growth and for the millions of people who rely on their waters to sustain livelihoods. With average annual cost of floods in India estimated at US$7.4 billion, many dams are critical in mitigating floods. Their failure could pose serious risks to downstream communities.

The Second Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP-2) will strengthen dam safety by building dam safety guidelines; bring in global experience; and introduce newer technologies. A major innovation envisaged under the project, that is likely to transform dam safety management in the country, is the introduction of a risk-based approach to dam asset management that will help to effectively allocate financial resources towards dam safety needs. 

The project will be implemented in approximately 120 dams across the states of Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu, and at the national level through the Central Water Commission (CWC). Other states or agencies may also be added to the project during project implementation.

“This is the world’s largest dam management program. Its objective is to break the costly cycle of ‘build-neglect-rebuild’ which characterizes the operations and maintenance of infrastructure across sectors,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “The expected outcomes will be game-changing: sustaining the livelihoods and food security of millions of Indians who depend on irrigated agriculture and enabling farmers to shift out of pumping groundwater, thereby, reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. This program can act as a lighthouse for other countries tackling the challenge of managing hydraulic infrastructure.”

Since project effectiveness in 2012, Government of India has been implementing the World Bank-supported DRIP-1 (US$279 million) and Additional Financing (US$62 million). This project has improved the safety and sustainable performance of 223 dams in six states of India and one central agency. 

“The ongoing DRIP-1 project is helping to set-up institutions, build capacity, and put in place procedures for dam safety. To build on these achievements, further measures are needed to channel scarce funds towards the dams at highest risk,” said Chabungbam Rajagopal Singh, Senior Water Resources Management Specialist and Halla Maher Qaddumi, Senior Water Economist and the task team leaders for DRIP-2. “The project will introduce risk-informed dam safety management, establish sustainable mechanisms for financing dam safety, and enhance the capabilities of institutions to manage dam assets.”

Other important measures that DRIP-2 will support include flood forecasting systems and integrated reservoir operations that will contribute to building climate resilience; the preparation and implementation of Emergency Action Plans to enable vulnerable downstream communities to prepare for and enhance resilience against the possible negative impacts and risks of climate change; and the piloting of supplemental revenue generation schemes such as floating solar panels.

The $250 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a maturity of 13 years, including a grace period of 6 years.

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