Yamuna set to cross danger mark in Delhi

Unprecedented quantity of water released from upstream Hathinikund barrage; will the consequent flood be worse than the one in 1978?

 
By Soma Basu
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Heavy rains in the upper reaches of Yamuna and record release of water from Hathinikund barrage in Haryana have caused the river to rise above the danger mark.
 
The monitoring station of Central Water Commission (CWC) at Mawi in Haryana recorded water level at 231 metre at 2:30 pm. It is expected to rise to 231.75 metre (m) by 3 pm tomorrow. The danger mark at Mawi is 230.85 m.

In Delhi, the Yamuna rose to 202.42 m at the Old Railway bridge at 2 pm. It is expected to rise to 207.20 m by 10 pm on Tuesday. The danger mark for Delhi is 204.83 m. According to CWC officials, the water level may rise further.
Till Monday morning, 800,600 cusecs of water, the highest volume at any given point till date, had been released from Hathnikund barrage. During the devastating floods of 1978 in Delhi, the water released from Hathnikund Barrage was around 700,000 cusecs; the Yamuna water level in Delhi had risen to 207.49 metre then.

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Irrigation and flood control engineers say that even though they have taken ample precautionary measures, it is for the first time they would be dealing with such large quantity of water being released from Hathnikund.

VK Jain, senior engineer (Flood Zone I) of Irrigation and Flood Control Department, said that there is nothing to worry as the water would flow via embankments. The peak water level would be on Wednesday morning, and the drains that open into the Yamuna would be closed. Pumps have also been installed in areas such as jahangirpuri, Rajghat and Nizamuddin to drain out water.

How well prepared are authorities

However, question remains that if the drains are closed, what would happen to the drainage in the urban areas since Delhi has already been receiving heavy rainfall and weather personnel forecast that rains would continue for the next 48 hours. Jain said that waterlogging could be an issue in several places, but that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) takes care of that by installing pumps.

Flood control rooms of MCD claim that they have no news of any flood-like situation. Obviously, early monsoons have caught the authorities unawares; Delhi airport was waterlogged on Sunday. There is no one at the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA)’s call centre to receive calls at its number—1077. 

In the 1978 floods, Delhi suffered widespread breaches in rural embankments, submerging 43 sq km of agricultural land under 2 m of water, causing total loss of the kharif crop. In addition to this, colonies of north Delhi, including Model town, Mukherjee Nagar and Nirankari Colony, were inundated, causing extensive damage to property. The total damage to crops, houses and public utilities was estimated at Rs 17.61 crore.

Uttarakhand received 220 mm rainfall till yesterday while Delhi received a total of 58.5 mm of rain during the past 24 hours. It takes 32-36 hours for water from Hathnikund barrage to reach Delhi and this is exactly the time that the authorities have in Delhi to prepare themselves.

Alert has already been sounded in low lying areas of Gandhi Nagar and Geeta Colony. Sandeep Gulati, sub divisional magistrate of Gandhinagar, said the government is evacuating farmers from Yamuna banks and rehabilitating them in tents on Yamuna Bridge. The area from Old Yamuna Bridge to Okhla barrage has already been cleared.

V P S Tomar, chief engineer of Irrigation and Flood Control Department, says that the good sign is that water has already started to recede at Hathnikund. “Even if water level rises in Delhi, it would soon recede,” he said.
Meanwhile, several districts in Haryana suffered floods on Monday. R K Sharma, district revenue officer of Yamunanagar area, said that 52 people who were stranded due to floods were evacuated today. Authorities have also issued an alert in the districts of Karnal, Panipat and Sonepat.

Sharma said that even though there are heavy rains in Uttarakhand, water is receding at Hathnikund because water is draining into the Markanda and Kangri rivers now. Jain said that earlier the Yamuna catchment area was receiving heavy rainfall and so, large quantity of water was flowing into the Yamuna. Now the rain pattern may have changed.

Manoj Mishra, convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, said that in times like this website of Irrigation and Flood Control department is showing data of September 2012. “Is this their preparedness? Or  is the system of information dissemination in crisis?”





 

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