Chandigarh, July 11: The water level at Bhakra dam has reached an all time high, prompting the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) today to issue a warning to the Punjab government that it would be releasing "excess" water into Satluj and Beas rivers in the next few days.
"Water level in our reservoirs (Bhakra and Beas) is going up like anything this season. Water level (in Bhakra) is the highest ever since the last 40-50 years. We had a meeting with the Punjab Chief Minister on July 5 to apprise him of the situation in Bhakra," the board's chairman AB Agrawal told reporters.
Agrawal said the water level was rising due to heavy snow melting and pre-monsoon showers this year and the excess needs to be released in the next few days.
He assured that the release of excess water will be carried out in a regulated way so that it does not lead to flooding. "We have assured that spillage will be regulated."
Agrawal, however, expressed serious concern over the encroachments taking place in river beds of Satluj and Beas which could restrict the "free flow of excess" water in these rivers.
"I assure the public that we will try to release water in such a regulated way that there is no flooding. But (there is a) word of caution if any situation like Uttarakhand happened, BBMB or any other organisation in the world will be helpless," he said. The water level in Bhakra is expected to cross 1,645 feet in next 7-8 days, Agrawal said.
On being asked how much water will be released, he said it would depend upon the inflow and outflow of water at that time. "If we have 70,000 cusecs of inflow, 25,000 cusecs can go for irrigation while rest of water could be released."
As melting of the snow has been 50 pc more than average this season and water inflow too has gone up by 27 per cent, the water level in Bhakra today touched the mark of 1,629.87 feet, which is 84 feet more than the level it had reached in corresponding period of last year.
Similarly, the water level in Pong dam has also shot up to 1,340.68 feet which is also 48 feet higher in comparison to level the level in 2012.
Since monsoon season has just started, the BBMB is also concerned that the targeted water level in both dams would be achieved before the scheduled time period. "Due to heavy rains and maximum snow melt this year, we expect the targeted levels would be attained much faster.
There is a complete possibility of spillage as we still have full period of monsoon. Moreover, now we are getting rain in September too," he said.
Bhakra and Pong dams are to be filled up to a level of 1,680 feet and 1,390 feet respectively by September this year. Noting that the flood-level intensity in Bhakra dam, constructed across Sutlej river, had gone up manifold in the past several years, Agrawal blamed it for the illegal construction activity in and around the river bed of Satluj and Beas and said it had affected the free flow of water.
"In case you visit almost all the districts (in Punjab) through which Beas and Satluj is passing, most of the areas you will find encroached... not even a single place you will find which is not encroached," he claimed.
"Satluj river has 2 lakh cusecs of capacity but actually it can take only 50,000 cusecs. Downstream areas of river have been encroached. Colonies have come up...people have constructed farm houses... whatever you imagine you can find in the river bed," he said adding that there is a huge hue and cry even if 50,000 cusecs of water is released.
On being asked how encroachments in river beds could be contained, Agrawal put the onus on Punjab government to take stock of the situation. "It is the job of the state government how to take care of encroachment," he said.
Notably, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal yesterday directed the Deputy Commissioners of Ropar, Nawanshehar, Ferozepur, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Moga and Kapurthala to make adequate arrangements to effectively combat any eventuality.