Season's maximum water was released on Saturday through the Ranjit Sagar Dam floodgates to manage the heavy inflow into its reservoir from the swollen Ravi river. The shepherds camping on the banks were persuaded to take their families and livestock to safety.
The project authorities released 32,000 cusecs of water (which will fill an Olympic-size swimming pool every third second) through the spillway, forcing the Madhopur head works to release 17,000 cusecs to Pakistan through the main river downstream. The tributaries of the Ravi can hold only 15,000 cusecs of water.
Pathankot deputy commissioner Sukhvinder Singh, who visited the flood-control station at Paharipur on the Pakistan border to monitor the situation, sounded a high alert in the villages along the Ravi after its waters rose to an unexpected level after 2pm. "We had told the district administrations of Pathankot and Gurdaspur that the amount of water we'd release at noon would reach the lower parts downstream in 2 hours," said dam's executive engineer RL Mittal.
"Since 37,000 cusecs of water was flowing in from the Chamera project in Himachal Pradesh and the level of the Ranjit Sagar reservoir cannot be allowed to rise beyond 524 metres, we had to open the spillway," the executive engineer said, adding that the dam was in a good health. Pathankot DC Sukhvinder Singh said that seeing many Gujjar (shepherd) families still camping with their livestock on the Ravi banks, he had issued orders to shift them at the earliest.
"I have told the police about the danger in case the predicted heavy rain increases the reservoir's level and more water has to be released," said the DC. Deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Parbhjot Singh Virk, whose jurisdiction includes the border areas of Bamyal and Narot Jaimal Singh, said: "We told the reluctant people that the Ravi was in full spate and more water was expected in the coming days, at which they agreed to move to safer places."