Bhakra dam set to release more water downstream

Anju Agnihotri Chaba
On Wednesday, the dam level reached close to 1672 feet against 1608 feet on the corresponding day last year. (File)

With water level in the Bhakra dam reservoir rising, the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) has started releasing more water down stream than the demand in order to make space for more water in the dam. Dam reservoir is just 8 feet below its maximum capacity of 1680 feet.

On Wednesday, the dam level reached close to 1672 feet against 1608 feet on the corresponding day last year. The meteorological department has predicted good rain for three days from August 16-18 in both catchment area of the dam in Himachal Pradesh and in Punjab, where the water is released in Sutlej river by the dam.

There is a demand of 20,000 to 22,000 cusecs water down stream to be utilised in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan states even in this paddy growing season, but the dam is releasing close to 32,000 cusecs and may increase it to around 35,000 cusecs in the coming days to make some space for rain water in the reservoir, said sources in the office of BBMB Chairman.

If water would not be released from today then there may be sudden rise in reservoir water and then heavy release may cause flood like situation down stream, said a senior officer, adding that dam is just 8 feet below its maximum capacity.

On Wednesday, the inflow in the reservoir was 58977 cusecs while outflow is 31523 cusecs. The officer said that the level was rising fast.

We need to restrict its level to 1670 feet by releasing water from dam otherwise it will fill up to its maximum capacity 1680 feet by the end of this month only , said a senior officer. There was lot of criticism of BBMB recently that it had released huge amount of water which had gone to Pakistan. The officer said that if the BBMB had not done it then they would have had to release more during rainy season, causing flood-like situation in downstream.

It is up to the governments downstream to utilise extra water flow from Bhakra when all the three states Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, are facing depleting ground water levels, said another officer.

In the region the rainy season lasts from June month to September end and still 45 days of rainy season are left in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal.

Though the reservoir was designed to contain water up to 1690 feet and earlier its maximum limit of 1685 feet, but later it was reduced to 1680 feet in the year 2010. The BBMB will hold its monthly technical committee meeting on August 16 to take stock of the situation.

Director, Water Regulation, Bhakra dam, Satish Singla, confirmed that water level of Bhakra was above 1670 feet on Thursday and it may go up in the coming days with good rainfall predictions.