With the Yamuna water level in the city touching a 60-year high on Wednesday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged the Centre to ensure that the level does not rise further. By Wednesday midnight, the river was flowing at 208.13 metres, which is the highest recorded level since 1963.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, the CM urged people living in areas close to the river to evacuate their houses immediately.
Several parts of the city close to the river, such as Monastery Market, Yamuna Bazar, Geeta Ghat and the stretch from Majnu Ka Tilla to Wazirabad, were flooded on Wednesday. Over 16,500 people were evacuated from flood-affected areas till Wednesday night, a Delhi government official said.
In a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the CM requested that “the water from Hathnikund barrage in Haryana [upstream of Delhi] be released [into the Yamuna] at a limited speed”, pointing out that the Capital is set to host the G-20 Summit in a few weeks.
The CM said soon after writing to Mr. Shah, Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat contacted him and said there was no facility to stop water at the Hathnikund Barrage. “However, he said that less water is now flowing down from Himachal Pradesh and that the situation will improve in about a day,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
The Yamuna’s water level has been rising steadily since heavy rain lashed north India on July 8-9. It breached the ‘danger mark’ of 205.33 metres on Monday evening. By 11 p.m. on Tuesday, it had swollen to 206.83 metres. The Delhi government is in the process of evacuating close to 41,000 people living close to the river.
‘Flow to reduce’
The water released from Hathnikund Barrage fell from 3.59 lakh cusecs at 11 a.m. on Tuesday to 1.47 lakh cusecs at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. “The water released from the barrage takes 36-72 hours to reach Delhi. So, even as less water is being released now, it will take some time before the river flow in the Capital is affected,” an official said.
PWD Minister Atishi said the embankments along the river are being strengthened to prevent them from giving way to the river, which is in spate.
Lieutenant-Governor V. K. Saxena said various National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been deployed in the affected areas and that assistance will be extended to all affected persons.