“Dams, barrages needed to stop monsoon flows from being wasted”

Recent protests by religious and social groups against the unabated pollution in the Yamuna may well have given an impetus to the long-standing need for harvesting monsoon flows through dams and barrages. One of the major demands of the river-conservation groups has been ensuring minimum flow in the river to help its revival.

“During the monsoon months there is more than adequate for consumption as well as for releasing down the river, but problems arise when the rains stop,” said a Delhi Jal Board official.

Dams like Renuka, Kishau and barrages like the one proposed at Palla, say officials are the solution to the problem of monsoon flows going waste. “For years now we have been raising the need to have a barrage that will store the water that otherwise goes waste. The barrage that the DJB has proposed at Palla for instance will have the capacity to store water received during the monsoon, from 40 days to two months,” the official said.

“Maintaining the minimum flow becomes difficult during the summer months and DJB has been stressing on the need to make the most of the monsoon flows that otherwise go waste. As on date there is no system of doing so…” the official said.

Renuka Dam, currently put on hold for want of clearance from the Ministry of Environment too is seen as the only solution to the long term water demand.

“The Supreme Court too has stated that there should be 10 cusec flow, in the river and that is possible only if we have dams and barrages to capture the monsoon flows. These are long term solutions. The demand for water is colossal, not just for potable uses, but for irrigation too. Yamuna being the only source of water for Delhi and Haryana, there will always be disagreements over sharing and with demand multiplying rapidly, there will never be enough. We have to look at these long term solutions as means of solving water crisis, of course with minimal disturbance to the people and the environment,” said the official.

Storages (dams and barrages) are also important, given the falling levels of groundwater and its slow recharge, point out officials. “The whole national capital region depends on the Yamuna and the construction industry has put a great strain on the groundwater levels. The rain that we get during monsoon is barely enough to recharge the levels,” the official said.