Delhi: Yamuna crosses danger mark, floodplain residents reach for higher areas

Amil Bhatnagar
Water level in Yamuna river rises after the release of water from Hathnikund Barrage, in New Delhi (PTI)

Karam Singh (36) lives in one of hundreds of shanties on the banks of the Yamuna, close to Kashmere Gate. With the release of water from the Hathni Kund Barrage and the river rising beyond the danger mark, he is coming up with a safety plan for his family of eight. We have to make a tent for ourselves on the footpath, close to the bridge. Our house will be flooded, and we will have to build a new one, said Singh.

Thousands of people living on the Yamuna floodplains in North Delhi, including Laxmi Nagar, Kashmere Gate and ITO, are seeking refuge at higher places. The government has begun constructing temporary tents to provide shelter, but locals claim it isn t enough.

Sand is being deposited close to the Monastery market, Majnu Ka Tilla and nearby regions to prevent water from spilling on to higher ground, an official said. National Disaster Response Force officials said the Yamuna s level on Tuesday evening was 206.25 metres, 0.08 metres above the danger mark.

A municipal corporation official said 2,357 tents have been erected in 48 locations across six districts. Almost 16,000 people have been evacuated from regions close to the river, and 11,000 are inhabiting the camps. The camps have been provided with carpets and bulbs for electricity, and regular meals are also handed out, an official said.

The railway bridge near Kashmere Gate has been closed. We expect the water level to touch 207 metres, after which it will begin receding. The camps are ready, and we hope people shift in time, in order to avoid mishaps, said an official.

Aakash (20) has rented a rickshaw for the day to move small items from his shanty to underneath the ITO flyover. There are seven of us. Our house will not be spared if the water rises. We ve shifted beds and whatever else we could. Soon, it will be a mini-village here. We will be here for two months, till the rain is over, he said.

Some cremation spots at Nigam Bodh were also shut, forcing people to find other locations. A few cremation spots at the river bank have been shut. The ones inside the premises are operational. Families that wished to cremate on the river bank are approaching different cremation centres, said a Nigam Bodh official.