With work going on to reinforce the structure of the Umiam dam and bridge, the public is understandably concerned about the continued use of the ageing structure.
Today, Chairman and Managing Director of Meghalaya Energy Corporation Ltd (MeECL), Sanjay Goyal, reassured the citizenry that they continue to remain safe for vehicular passage and that the rehabilitation work is merely to extend the lifespan.
“I would like to very clearly mention here that both structures – the bridge and the dam – are safe,” Goyal said. “We have conducted a lot of studies with all the expert agencies as far as these two structures are concerned. Of course, over a period of time, they require rehabilitation, maintenance and they require certain inputs in terms of increasing their life.”
Half of the road has been closed off to traffic for the renovation and heavy vehicles have been barred from using it.
Experts have looked at the dam right to the bottom and conducted technical studies, with all its shortcomings identified, he added.
“Because of the age of the dam, there is certain permeability of the materials, which comes through because of the water pressure as well as certain leakages that happen, which are normal in these kinds of big structures. This we are [fixing] now in a scientific manner,” Goyal said.
After the completion of the exercise, the life of the dam is expected to increase by around 40 to 50 years.
Based on an assessment by IIT Guwahati, the bridge can bear with vehicles up to 15 tonnes. Instructions have been issued to civil authorities and police and CCTV cameras have been put in place to allow for round the clock monitoring that restrictions are being adhered to. “To that extent, I don’t think there are any problems in terms of safety of the vehicles plying,” Goyal stated.