With incessant rains leading to rise in the water level in Bhakra Beas Management Board's (BBMB) Pong dam in Himachal Pradesh, the authorities opened floodgates to release the excess water on Sunday.
"A total of 24,491 cusecs water was released downstream through spillways and turbines," a BBMB official told Hindustan Times.
The water level stood at 1,379 feet on Sunday, three feet more than Saturday, as over 3 lakh cusecs water flowed into the reservoir in the past 24 hours.
This is the first time the BBMB authorities have opened the Pong dam floodgates in the past four years. They were last opened in August 2011.
Built on the Beas on the Himachal-Punjab border, the dam serves irrigation requirements of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.
A discharge of up to 50,000 cusecs is not treated as flooding but the authorities have put on alert civil administration of Kangra in Himachal and Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Pathankot, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Nawanshahr, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mansa, Moga and Muktsar in Punjab.
The decision to discharge the excess water was taken in a meeting held on Saturday following which the BBMB wrote to deputy commissioners concerned that volume of water being released could be increased if rains continued in the catchment area and could affect villages and towns downstream in Himachal and Punjab. "The water discharge will continue till the rainfall in dam's catchment subdues," an official said.
Pong dam has a storage capacity of 1,395 feet against the danger mark of 1,390 feet. However, the BBMB authorities have to maintain water level below 1,380 feet till August 15, the peak of filling season.
If the water breaches mark before the specified time, water is released by opening the gates. The filling season of Pong Dam ends in last week of September.