Over 10,000 evacuated as Yamuna flows above danger mark

Updated on Sep 28, 2022 12:11 AM IST

The river’s levels crossed the danger mark of 205.33mm early on Tuesday, and jumped to 206.38 metres by 7pm, a spate largely due to an unusually sustained spell of rain in northwest India, including Haryana and Delhi.

A resident at her shanty in a flooded low lying area as water level of Yamuna river crosses the danger mark, in New Delhi, Tuesday. (PTI)
A resident at her shanty in a flooded low lying area as water level of Yamuna river crosses the danger mark, in New Delhi, Tuesday. (PTI)
ByAlok KN Mishra

Water levels in the Yamuna on Tuesday shot past the ‘evacuation mark’ of 206m, said the Delhi government, prompting authorities to move thousands of people who live along the river’s floodplains to safe places. The river is expected to swell further on Wednesday, added officials.

District administrations shifted 10,000 people from floodplains at ITO, across the Old Yamuna Bridge, Geeta Colony and other places along the river and temporarily moved them into state-run schools, night shelters as well as tents set up on higher grounds along the river.

The river’s levels crossed the danger mark of 205.33mm early on Tuesday, and jumped to 206.38 metres by 7pm, a spate largely due to an unusually sustained spell of rain in northwest India, including Haryana and Delhi.

Officials said the increase is also largely due to Haryana releasing significant amounts of water from the Hathni Kund Barrage, near the state’s eastern border with Uttar Pradesh. Haryana released 22,996 cusecs of water into the barrage on Sunday and 104,121 at 4am on Tuesday.

Evacuations along the Yamuna bank during the monsoons are a regular affair during the monsoon, when the river swells well past its usual levels, crossing the warning level of 204.5m as well as the steeper danger and evacuation thresholds. On August 13 this year, at least 7,000 people were evacuated, when the water levels hit 205.88m.

To be sure, it is fairly unusual for the river to swell this much this deep into September. The river’s spate normally matches monsoon patterns, hitting its highest level in August, which is also Delhi’s wettest month (the city gauges 247mm of rain in the month). The last time residents of the Yamuna floodplains were evacuated in September was in 2010, when a sharp spell of rain hit the national capital.

East Delhi district magistrate Anil Banka said the administration sounded the evacuation alert on Tuesday after the water level crossed the 206-metre mark.

“We have evacuated around 10,000 people living in the floodplains and shifted them to safer places. We have made arrangements for their stay at government schools and night shelters in nearby areas,” he said.

The Delhi government has pressed 51 boats in action so as to respond to any eventuality, Delhi government officials said.

Residents of the floodplains, most of whom live in thatched, clay huts said the sudden inundation caught them off guard.

“We left our homes before the sunrise with whatever valuables we could manage to gather in a short time. No alert was sounded in our colony,” said Jyoti Kumari, who lives in a hutment in the floodplain under Loha Pul near Geeta Colony.

Several people were seen evacuating their cattle and valuables during the afternoon on Tuesday when flood water surrounded their homes.

A district administration official, however, claimed an announcement was made at night, alerting people about the possibility of floods.

Revenue minister Kailash Gahlot said the government is closely monitoring the flood situation and evacuation efforts by the revenue department officials. All the districts through which the river flows have been asked to remain alert and provide relief to affected people, including food and shelter, he said.

“People from low-lying areas who have been evacuated are being provided food as well as medicine. We have kept an adequate number of boats and divers ready,” said Gahlot.

Over 35,000 people live along the Yamuna floodplains in Delhi, according to unofficial estimates.

It is not uncommon for Yamuna to swell during September. On several occasions in past Yamuna flooded during September including in 1978 when one of the biggest floods was reported in Delhi, and also in 2010. In 1998 Delhi saw Yamuna floods in October close to Diwali. The flood cycle indicates that a major flood may be expected in near future. It is important to keep the floodplain free from encroachments including govt's riverfront beautification and plantation projects to ensure that floods do not wreck havoc," said Bhim Singh Rawat, assistant coordinator South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People

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Wednesday, November 30, 2022
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