Bhakra, Pong Dams brimming, Punjab put on high alert - Hindustan Times
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Bhakra, Pong Dams brimming, Punjab put on high alert

By, Chandigarh
Aug 15, 2023 01:18 AM IST

Both Bhakra and Pong Dams are brimming after heavy rain in their catchment areas in Himachal Pradesh. Both dams are managed by Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).

Both Bhakra and Pong Dams are brimming after heavy rain in their catchment areas in Himachal Pradesh. Both dams are managed by Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).

Bhakra Dam over Sutlej, which has a catchment in Himachal Pradesh, also witnessed a heavy inflow. The dam has reached its top filing capacity of 1680 feet. The floodgates of the dam were opened on Sunday, but the rise in the water levels in both dams are posing a threat downstream in Punjab.
Bhakra Dam over Sutlej, which has a catchment in Himachal Pradesh, also witnessed a heavy inflow. The dam has reached its top filing capacity of 1680 feet. The floodgates of the dam were opened on Sunday, but the rise in the water levels in both dams are posing a threat downstream in Punjab.

The officials said Pong received an all-time high inflow of 7.3 lakh cusecs which led to a 10 feet rise in water levels in its reservoir. At one point, the water in the Pong Dam touched 1,400 feet, beyond its maximum filling capacity of 1,390 feet.

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“The inflows at Pong have come down, and the floodgates have been opened. The dam became operational in 1977, and since then, it has never seen this quantity of inflow ever,” the official, who didn’t wish to be named, said.

At present, 90,000 cusecs of water is being released from Pong floodgates, forcing the Punjab government to warn residents of five districts against going near the Beas riverbanks. The advisory has been issued for the people of Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Tarn Taran districts.

Similarly, Bhakra Dam over Sutlej, which has a catchment in Himachal Pradesh, also witnessed a heavy inflow. The dam has reached its top filing capacity of 1680 feet. The floodgates of the dam were opened on Sunday, but the rise in the water levels in both dams are posing a threat downstream in Punjab.

“We have surpassed the top filing levels in Bhakra Dam even though the spillways (floodgates) are open,” said an officer of BBMB, who requested anonymity, adding that a close watch is being kept on the situation and in case the need arises the flow from the spillways could be increased.

He informed that 20,000 cusecs of water is being released from the Bhakra Dam reservoir. As per the manual, Bhakra maintains a level of 1670 feet by August 15, however, due to heavy Monsoon rains, the level have surpassed the limits set by the BBMB.

“It’s worrying that there is over a month more to go for the filling of the dam till September 20, and it is raining heavily in the catchment area,” said an officer of the BBMB.

He adds that no rainfall in Punjab is the only solace. “In case there is rainfall in the state, the scenario will be critical,” said the officer adding that the Sutlej and Beas can hold up to 2 lakh cusecs of water, but in case the BBMB is forced to release more water, it would flood the plains endangering freshly sown paddy in over 2 lakh acres.

People in 5 dists warned not to go near Beas riverbank

Chandigarh The Punjab government on Monday warned residents of five districts against going near the Beas riverbanks as surplus water from the Pong dam is going to be released.

Due to incessant rainfall in the catchment area of the Beas, Pong Dam has started releasing water from its reservoir.

Water resources minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer said that riverbanks have been sufficiently strengthened to carry high discharge. “The field staff of the department has been asked to keep the vigil 24 hours a day,” he added.

Chief secretary Anurag Verma held a meeting with all deputy commissioners via video conferencing to discuss the situation arising from the excess water inflow into the dams.

He said that the safety of people’s life and property is the highest priority.

“The safety of people living along the rivers banks is paramount, Verma said, asking officials to make preparation to deal with any situation and set up relief camps if necessary.

Verma asked the officials to maintain a constant vigil in the sensitive areas and immediately contact the Water Resources Department.

The maximum level of the Pong Dam is 1,390 feet, as decided by all the partner states, while the current level is at 1395.91 feet. Verma said the Dam was designed to hold water up to 1421 feet.

“The release shall be done in a controlled manner and will be increased gradually, hence the people of the Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Tarn Taran districts are advised not to go near the river,” he said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Gurpreet Singh Nibber is an Assistant Editor with the Punjab bureau. He covers politics, agriculture, power sector, environment, Sikh religious affairs and the Punjabi diaspora.

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