Bhakra level crosses critical 1,680-ft mark, worries mount
The water level in the Bhakra dam on Monday crossed the critical mark of 1,680 feet, prompting the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) to increase the outflow of water through the reservoir’s floodgates from 19,000 cusecs (cubic feet per second) to 40,000 cusecs.
The water level in the dam till Monday evening was 1,681 feet. The total release of water into the Sutlej downstream of the dam is 76,000 cusecs with 36,000 cusecs being released from the penstocks at the bottom of reservoir where turbines for power generation are installed. Currently, the water inflow into the reservoir is 75,000 cusecs.
The board officials said things were under control as the tough phase got over when the inflow into the dam touched 3.11 lakh cusecs on Sunday and water levels witnessed 4-foot rise in a day. Last time, it was in 1988 when 3.18 cusecs of water had flown into the reservoir, leading to flooding downstream of the dam.
The next challenge for the board is the next spell of rainfall predicted from August 23. “Hopefully, it would not be as serious as it was in the past two days. We have put in all efforts to save the downstream areas by regulating the outflow of water by restricting release from the floodgates,” said BBMB chairman DK Sharma.
Sharma said three Sutlej distributaries – Swan, Lohund and Sarsa — caused floods downstream of Bhakra since a total of 2 lakh cusecs water is flowing into these rivers. “It is unfair to blame the BBMB for floods downstream of the dam because only 14% water is flowing out from the spillways which have a total release capacity of 3 lakh cusecs.” The BBMB will maintain 1,678-foot level, he added.
BBMB has another concern at hand of keeping the dam deflection angle under control. A senior board official said currently it is tiled by 1.12 inches due to a tremendous push because of the huge amount of water it is upholding upstream. The height the dam wall is 1,692 feet. The BBMB doesn’t let the level go beyond 1,684 feet when inflows are under control.