Additional funding of $137 million has been approved for a project that will help rehabilitate and modernize over 220 selected large dams in the Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand.

The World Bank, Government of India and representatives of five state governments and implementing agencies signed the loan agreement for the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) late last week.

The funds – which come nine years after a previous financing injection of $350 million from the World Bank – will be used for construction of an additional spillway for Hirakud Dam in Odisha state as well as to continue to help in rehabilitation and improvement of other dams including strengthening the institutional, legal and technical framework for dam safety assurance within the Government of India and in the participating states.

“Infrastructure management often falls prey to a costly ‘build-decay-rebuild’ cycle.  Breaking this pattern by ensuring that dams are well managed, properly maintained and efficiently operated is essential.  This will ensure the welfare and safety of communities and sustain economic growth.  DRIP is delivering these important objectives," said Junaid Ahmad, Country Director World Bank.

India is home to more than 5200 large dams and another 400 that are under construction having a total storage capacity of more than 300 billion m3. 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 is essential for India. The dams play a key role in fostering rapid and sustained agricultural and rural growth and development – a key priority for the Government of India since independence.

These dams benefit millions of people who rely on their waters for livelihood, and therefore need to be strengthened with more investment in their operations and maintenance. Flood protection measures in many dams need to be supported as well, as their failure could pose serious risks to downstream communities.

“Fostering rapid and sustained agricultural growth is a key priority for the Government of India.  Due to erratic rainfall patterns, dams play a key role in storing water for irrigation and other uses,” said Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance. “This project will help improve safety and operational performance of large and small dams in India leading to sustained rural development,” he added.

The Loan Agreement was signed by Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, World Bank India, on behalf of the World Bank, and representatives from the state governments of Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand.