The situation could have become dangerous and there could have been deaths, but for the alertness of the workers at the Prakasam barrage over the Krishna river, a major accident had been averted.

A part of the Prakasam dam has been closed for repairs and it was around Tuesday afternoon and the workers were having lunch below when suddenly they found water downstream. To their shock they found the two sluice gates of the dam lifted and water coming their way.

A sense of panic gripped the workers because they were caught unawares, water was gushing down the mammoth cemented dam. Within 5 minutes, a worker on top of the gates immediately rushed to the control room and found a half-naked man toying with the gate switches. He had managed to open Gate no 58 and 59.

He was stopped and the gates closed, thus averting a major accident. But in this time of water scarcity, already close to 100 cusecs of water had been wasted. Not only that, if he had not been stopped in the nick of time, temporary huts built by the workers downstream would have been destroyed and equipment and people washed away.

A report in TNIE says the man has been identified as Bangaru Babu (40) from Tummalacheruvu in Guntur district, was handed over to One Town police.

As part of repair works to 150-year-old Prakasam Barrage, the water resources department is taking up replacement of ‘seour vents’ from April 18 onwards. The works will take around one month time to complete and traffic on the Barrage will be stopped for entire tenure. There are 14 vents under the crust gates, of which six are at the side of Vijayawada and eight are at the side of Seethanagaram of Guntur district.

Officials dismissed the water loss as negligible and said that irrigation engineers and officials were present at the barrage and they had been careful. However, it is certainly alarming that a semi-naked man could get access to controls like this. Dams are secured and fortified properties, where trespassers are strictly prohibited. So is this not a lapse?