IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


12th June, 2023 International Relations

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Context: The destruction of the Kakhovka Dam in Ukraine and its significant environmental impact.


  • The destruction of the Kakhovka Dam has led to a fast-moving disaster with long-term environmental consequences.
  • The disaster affects drinking water, food supplies, and ecosystems extending into the Black Sea.

Short-Term Dangers:

  • Tens of thousands of parcels of land have been flooded, with more expected.
  • Newly planted crops are at risk as irrigation canals dry up.
  • Fish, water birds, trees, and plants have been negatively impacted.

Importance of Kakhovka Reservoir:

  • The reservoir played a crucial role in providing water to a previously arid region of southern Ukraine.
  • It was part of a system of six Soviet-era dams on the Dnieper River.

Russian Occupation and Neglect:

  • Russian forces controlled the Kakhovka Dam, leading to neglect and uncontrolled water level fluctuations.
  • Water levels dropped dangerously low in winter and rose to historic peaks during spring rains.

Devastating Consequences:

  • The destruction of the dam has caused extensive damage, including the uprooting of landmines, pollution of the Black Sea, and the submersion of towns and national parks.
  • Farmland is underwater, affecting agricultural production.
  • Drinking water shortages are imminent, with potential long-term effects.

Long-Term Environmental Impact:

  • The reservoir's collapse reveals an impending environmental catastrophe.
  • Toxins in the mud pose a risk as they may turn into poisonous dust.
  • The movement of front lines in the ongoing war will affect restoration possibilities.

Loss of Ecosystems and Spawning Grounds:

  • Fish, waterfowl, and other wildlife dependent on the reservoir will suffer from the loss of spawning and feeding grounds.
  • Downstream protected areas, including national parks, are at risk.

Recovery and Future Considerations:

  • It will take a decade for flora and fauna populations to recover and adjust.
  • The restoration of the reservoir and rethinking the region's future water supply are crucial decisions.
  • The disaster's consequences may primarily impact future generations.
  • The destruction of the Kakhovka Dam is considered Europe's worst environmental catastrophe since the Chernobyl disaster.
  • The long-term consequences will require careful management and consideration for the region's future.

About Kakhovka Dam

  • The Kakhovka Dam is a Soviet-era dam located on the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine.
  • It was built in 1956 as part of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant.
  • The dam is approximately 30 meters (98 feet) tall and spans a length of 3.2 kilometers (2 miles).

Purpose and Functionality:

  • The primary purpose of the Kakhovka Dam is to generate hydroelectric power.
  • It is an integral part of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, contributing to Ukraine's energy infrastructure.
  • The dam also serves as a water reservoir, supplying water for various purposes, including irrigation and industrial use.

Significance for Crimea:

  • The reservoir created by the Kakhovka Dam supplies water to the Crimean peninsula.
  • Following Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, the region has become dependent on the dam for its freshwater supply.
  • Interruptions or disruptions in the water supply from the dam can lead to water shortages in Crimea.

Nuclear Plant and Safety:

  • The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe's largest nuclear power plant, relies on the reservoir for cooling water.
  • The plant is located in the southern area now under Russian control.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has stated that there is no immediate nuclear safety risk at the Zaporizhzhia plant, and Russia's state nuclear energy company, Rosatom, has confirmed there is no threat to the plant.


Q) Examine the Dam safety rules in India, in the context of the recent ecological disaster in Ukraine. (250 words)