Around 100 families living in slum clusters in the eastern banks of Yamuna near Shahadara have been evacuated, the last few on Sunday, by the district administration.
Delhi Irrigation and Flood Control department, which is on war footing since the river is roaring with excess water and threatening to flood low-lying areas, had issued the warning.
Officials have been grimly monitoring the danger level of 204.83 metres, which Yamuna breached 24 hours ago, approaching the all-time record level.
“On Sunday it stood at 205.58 metres, with possibilities of increasing half centimetre per hour. We are on alert,” said MCT Pareva, chief engineer of the department.
Flooding gates at Kudsia Ghat were closed late Sunday to prevent river water from flowing back to the city through drains, he said.
Alarmed, environmentalists working on Yamuna went on a recce to potentially sensitive areas along the banks to document the rise in levels and reported bad news.
“At Kudsia ghat, river water is about to enter the Ring Road. It has already touched the retaining walls of the Shastri Park Metro complex,” said Manoj Misra, convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, a coalition of NGOs.
Concern emerges from the latest draft zonal plans, which proposes building of embankments after taking into account a peak river flow that, experts claimed, is less than what Delhi experienced during the 1978 floods.
“During the floods, the Tajewala dam released more than 15,000 cumec of water, whereas the draft zonal plan takes into account a flow of only around 12,750 cumec. They are downplaying the potential ferocity of Yamuna,” said environmentalist Vinod Jain of NGO Trapas.
Delhi has received around 70 mm more rainfall than normal, with majority raining during the past few weeks. However, it is the hills states, which have been filling Yamuna with excess rainfall.
“Ambala, which is close to Yamuna Nagar, has been receiving above-normal rains continuously for the past few days. It has been pouring in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand,” said O.P. Sharma, meteorologist formerly with Indian Air Force and with SkyMet, a weather services firm.
However, officials maintain that the British drew the so-called danger line when there was no embankment along the river, making the city vulnerable to floods but over the years, with rising embankments, the danger mark is not indicative of any danger after all. “In Delhi only people living in the immediate floodplains need to worry, not the entire city,” said an official.
The Central Water Commission may revise the danger level after a thorough study but that has never been done.