Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) intends to bring down the water level of Bhakra and Pong dams to carry out low-level inspection of submerged installations of the dams in the coming depletion period up to June 2016.
This statement was made by the BBMB chairman in the technical committee meeting held on August 25 to decide the reservoir releases for the month of September. This major policy decision was reportedly nowhere included in the agenda note for the meeting.
As per the minutes of the meeting, the BBMB chairman informed the partner states' representatives that BBMB is planning low-level inspection of the dams in the next year as safety and upkeep of the dam structures.
He requested chief engineers of partner states to mutually plan to bring down the levels of dams to facilitate the inspection of submerged installations at low level. He requested the partner states to cooperate and convey a message to the public in their respective states in a better manner to avoid panic due to likely scarcity of water during that period.
A retired Punjab State Electricity Board engineer expressed the surprise that if this matter was to be discussed in the technical committee meeting this should have been a part of the agenda note along with supporting documents. The statement of this objective by the BBMB chairman in the meeting implies that the participant states had no chance to examine or discuss this proposal which had far-reaching consequences, he added.
He said the Bhakra and Pong reservoirs were proposed to be depleted to the low level at the end of the depletion period of May/June 2016. However, it was extremely doubtful how this would be feasible.
A senior BBMB official said a more practicable and achievable proposal would have been to achieve the depletion of one of the two reservoirs during 2016 and to achieve the depletion of the other reservoir in 2017. With this flexibility, it would have been possible to coordinate the full irrigation requirements with the requirement of depletion of the reservoir one at a time.
When contacted, BBMB director, water regulation, DK Gupta, said no final decision had been taken to bring down the water level of the dams so far. The matter is likely to be discussed during the meeting of the technical committee scheduled for September 29.