Continuous rainfall over 48 hours raised the Yamuna’s water level close to the danger mark on Friday.
Officials said the water was expected to touch the danger mark — 204.83 metres — on Saturday afternoon, up from the 203 metres recorded on Friday.
Central Water Commission, which monitors the river’s level, has advised Delhi Irrigation and Flood Control department to be on its guard.
“Our men are inspecting the flood gates, especially near Qudsia Ghat,” said an executive engineer of the department.
“The moment we see some backflow into the city, we will close the floodgates and start pumping out water.”
When water in the Yamuna rises above the danger mark, drains start ‘backflowing’ their effluents into the city, instead of emptying them into the river.
Last August, the floodgates were closed when the water level rose past 205 metres.
Haryana’s Hathnikund barrage released over 4.2-lakh cusecs of water (12 million litres per second — that’s equal to entire Delhi’s daily water supply pumped in 3.5 minutes) in the river over one hour. Officials expect this water to reach Delhi in 36 hours.
“We have issued advisory to farmers who till the low-lying areas to get away from the river. Multiple departments have swung into action to be ready for rescue and relief, if need be,” said Rajesh Khanna, sub-divisional magistrate under whose jurisdiction the works come.
Yamuna’s danger level was decided by the British in the early 20th Century. The Central government has been considering revising it since the river and its embankments have changed over the years.
“Silt deposition has raised the riverbed, increasing the possibility of flooding,” said Manoj Misra, environment activist with Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, a coalition of NGOs. “In Delhi, floods are not natural, but manmade, thanks to clogged drains and encroached riverbed.”