Bhakra dam. (HT Photo)
Bhakra dam. (HT Photo)

Worries mount over drastic drop in Bhakra reservoir water level

Water in the Gobind Sagar lake, the reservoir of Bhakra dam, on Wednesday reached 1,505
By Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON JUN 03, 2021 01:17 AM IST

Water in the Gobind Sagar lake, the reservoir of Bhakra dam, on Wednesday reached 1,505.39 feet, 56 feet lower than what was on a corresponding day last year. The dam can be filled up to 1,680 feet.

Worries are mounting as the reservoir has only 10% of the 9.27 billion cubic metre water it can store. Any further dip in the level will lead to shutting of powerhouses and water to the partner states. However, the top management hoped that the monsoon expected t hit the region by mid-June will replenish the dam.

Power generation at dam’s powerhouses has been cut by 20% to manage the grim situation and regulate the outflows. Bhakra dam has a total power generation capacity of 1,415 megawatt (MW). To manage the reservoir level 14,000 cusecs water is being released from the dam against an inflow of 20,000 cusecs.

Release of water to the partner states (Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan) for irrigation and drinking purposes, so far, has been curtailed marginally and the impending scenario will be discussed in the meeting of partner states in the technical committee meeting expected on June 4 (Friday).

The reservoir also supplies potable water to the three north Indian states, along with national capital New Delhi. Water from the dam irrigates 160 lakh acres agricultural land.

“We have moved a proposal for the technical committee meeting to discuss the scenario which is worrisome. Hopefully it will take place on June 4 or in the upcoming week,” said a senior officer in the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).

Normally filling season starts on May 20 and continues till September 20, during this time, inflow crosses one-lakh cusecs. “But as of now, the inflow is very less, which is a cause of worry,” said a senior officer of the BBMB, adding that 50% of water in the reservoir comes from the melting of glaciers.

It needs mention that 30% of the irrigation is fed by canals and a major chunk of water comes from Bhakra. “At least 13,000 cusecs water is supplied to Punjab and 10,000 cusecs each to Haryana and Rajasthan. Paddy growing states (Punjab and Haryana) wants supply of water from next week as the preparations for sowing has begun and the state governments have allowed transplantations from June 10,” said a senior officer.

SILT REDUCES WATER-HOLDING CAPACITY

At least 23% of the reservoir’s is filling capacity has silt, due to which the dam fills and empties at a faster pace. The reservoir is spread over an area of 168 sq km and silt coming in the reservoir is much more than expected when the dam was commissioned in 1963.

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