Most of India’s dams are unsafe and could be swept away by floods, according to a confidential World Bank document published in newspapers Thursday.
The study comes as hundreds of thousands of villagers forced the World Bank to stop funding the construction of the world’s largest irrigation project on the Narmada River in western India.
The bank’s survey of 25 dams in four states revealed that none could contain a heavy flood, and the consequences of a dam burst would be catastrophic.
Although the study focused on only 25 dams, it said rough estimates showed that two-thirds of the country’s 947 dams are unsafe, The Pioneer newspaper reported.
It said the many dams were designed using an outdated formula to calculate how much water would flow into them during floods, and suggested that the government build safety devices.
In 1979, the Machhu II dam collapsed during a flood and killed 2,000 people in western India.