Evacuation of people from vulnerable areas intensified as the swollen Yamuna river continued to flow above the danger mark of 205.33 metres in Delhi on Saturday, officials said. The flood control room said the water level was at 205.99 metres at 3 pm, unchanged since 5 am.
The river had breached the danger mark of 205.33 metres around 4 pm on Friday following heavy rain in upper catchment areas, prompting authorities to evacuate people from low-lying areas.
A forecast said the water level is likely to touch 206 metres around 6 pm, remain stable till 7 pm and start decreasing thereafter. East Delhi Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Amod Barthwal said around 5,000 of the 13,000 people living in low-lying areas close to the river have been moved to tents erected near Commonwealth Games Village, Hathi Ghat and on Link Road.
“The remaining people are safe and there seems to be no need to shift them to other places as the water level is likely to drop,” he said. Karawal Nagar SDM Sanjay Sondhi said 200 people have been moved to higher ground from low-lying areas in his district and drinking water, food and other essentials have been provided to them with the help of NGOs.
A flood alert is declared in Delhi when the discharge rate from the Hathnikund Barrage in Haryana’s Yamuna Nagar crosses the 1 lakh-cusecs mark. People living near the floodplains and in flood-prone areas are evacuated then, an official said. “Around 37,000 people who live in Yamuna floodplains and low-lying areas in Delhi are considered vulnerable to flooding.
“People evacuated from low-lying areas in the floodplains are being shifted to temporary structures like tents and permanent buildings like schools in safer areas,” he said. The Delhi flood control room reported a discharge rate of around 17,000 cusecs from the Hathnikund Barrage at 6 am. It was 1.49 lakh cusecs at 1 am on Saturday and 2.21 lakh cusecs at 3 pm on Thursday.
One cusec is equivalent to 28.32 litres per second. Normally, the flow rate at the Hathnikund barrage is 352 cusecs, but the discharge increases after heavy rainfall in the catchment areas. The water discharged from the barrage normally takes two to three days to reach the national capital.
According to the India Meteorological Department, “widespread rainfall with isolated heavy rain” is likely in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Haryana on August 14 and 15. Last year, the Yamuna river breached the danger mark on July 30 and the water level at the Old Railway Bridge had risen to 205.59 metres.
In 2019, the flow rate had peaked at 8.28 lakh cusec on August 18-19, and the water level of the Yamuna had hit the 206.60-metre mark. In 1978, the river had swelled to the all-time record water level of 207.49 metres. In 2013, it had risen to 207.32 metres.