With the water level of the Yamuna river in Delhi hitting a 60-year-high, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday urged the Central government to intervene and ensure the level did not rise further, and if possible, release less water from Hathnikund Barrage in Haryana.
The water level of the Yamuna in Delhi rose steadily during the day and was 207.89 metres at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. It is expected to rise to 207.99 metres by 5 a.m. on Thursday, according to the Central Water Commission. The Yamuna breached the ‘danger mark’ of 205.33 metres on Monday evening and has been rising since then.
The Chief Minister, after a meeting with senior officials, urged people living in low-lying areas close to the Yamuna to evacuate their houses and not wait in their homes.
Several low-lying areas in the city that are close to the river, including the Boat Club, Monastery Market, Yamuna Bazaar, Geeta Ghat, the stretch from Majnu Ka Tilla to Wazirabad, have been flooded with river water.
Mr. Kejriwal said that there could be back flow from the Yamuna to some drains (which usually empty into the Yamuna) and it could lead to flooding in areas away from the river.
Meanwhile, water released from the Hathnikund Barrage came down from 3.59 lakh cusecs at 11 a.m. on Tuesday (the highest this week) to 1.47 lakh cusecs at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, according to Delhi Government data.
The water level of the Yamuna in Delhi depends heavily on the amount of water being released from the Hathnikund Barrage, which is upstream of Delhi.
“The water that is released from the barrage has a travel time of 36-72 hours to reach Delhi. So, even though less water is being released now, it will take time for its effect to reflect in Delhi’s water levels,” an official said.
As on Wednesday evening, most parts of the city were unaffected due to the swollen river. “Currently, the river’s embankments have not been broken and only low-lying areas close to the river have been flooded. In the 1978 flood, areas other than low lying areas were also flooded as there were problems with the embankments,” a senior official told The Hindu.
Revenue Minister Atishi Marlena said that the embankments were being strengthened to prevent them from breaking.
The CM also said, in a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, that the G20 summit is going to be held in Delhi in a few weeks and news of flooding would not send a good message to the world.
Mr. Kejriwal said that after writing the letter, Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat had contacted him and said that there was no facility to stop water at the Hathnikund Barrage. “But he said that now less water is coming upstream from Himachal and the situation will improve in about a day,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva hit out at the CM. “Every State seeks help from the Centre. But his letter shows that the Delhi Government is not prepared at all,” Mr. Sachdeva said.
Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena said that various teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had been deployed and that nobody would be left without help.
The Delhi Government is in the process of evacuating close to 41,000 people identified as vulnerable and living close to the river. Over 7,000 people were evacuated till Tuesday night. Also, a total of 50 boats have been stationed in the river from Palla to Okhla.