The water level of the Yamuna in Delhi dropped below the danger mark of 205.33 metres on Thursday morning and is expected to recede further, albeit slowly as heavy rainfall is likely at isolated places in the upper catchment areas in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
The Central Water Commission's (CWC) data showed the water level reached 205.25 metres at 10 am. There have been marginal fluctuations in the water level over the last two-three days.
The Yamuna had been receding gradually after reaching an all-time high of 208.66 metres last Thursday.
The water level dropped below the danger mark of 205.33 metres by 8 pm on Tuesday, after flowing above the threshold for eight days. It receded to 205.22 metres at 5 am on Wednesday, before it started rising again and breached the danger mark.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned of heavy to very heavy rain at isolated places in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh till July 22.
In case of heavy rains upstream of Delhi, the increase in the water level could slow down the pace of rehabilitation of the affected families in the inundated low-lying areas of the capital and they may have to stay in relief camps for a longer period.
It could also impact the water supply, which became normal only on Tuesday after being affected for four to five days due to the inundation of a pump house at Wazirabad.
The pump house supplies raw water to the Wazirabad, Chandrawal and Okhla water treatment plants, which together account for around 25 per cent of the city's supply.
The Okhla plant began operating on Friday, Chandrawal on Sunday and Wazirabad on Tuesday.
On Tuesday evening, a Delhi Jal Board (DJB) official said, "There is a shortage of only 10-12 million gallons of water per day (MGD) due to inundation of some tube wells in the river floodplain at Palla."
The DJB extracts around 30 MGD from the tube wells installed in the Palla floodplain.
Parts of Delhi have been grappling with waterlogging and flooding issues for more than a week now. Initially, a downpour caused intense waterlogging on July 8 and 9, with the city receiving 125 per cent of its monthly rainfall quota in just two days.
Subsequently, heavy rains in the upper catchment areas of the Yamuna, including in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Haryana, led to the river swelling to record levels.
The river reached 208.66 metres last Thursday, surpassing the previous record of 207.49 metres set in September 1978 by a significant margin. It breached embankments and penetrated deeper into the city than it has in more than four decades.
Friday marked a turning point as the raging Yamuna and the resulting backflow of foul-smelling water from drains spilled into prominent locations in the national capital, such as the Supreme Court, Raj Ghat and the bustling intersection at ITO.
Prior to the misery on Friday, the river water had already reached the rear ramparts of the Red Fort and inundated one of the city's major bus terminals at Kashmere Gate.
The Ring Road, constructed partially over the river's floodplain, remained closed for three consecutive days near Kashmere Gate last week.
The consequences of the floods have been devastating, with more than 27,000 people evacuated from their homes. The losses incurred in terms of property, businesses and earnings have run up to crores.
Experts attribute the unprecedented flooding in Delhi to encroachment on the river floodplain, extreme rainfall within a short span of time and silt accumulation that has raised the riverbed.
Renowned water conservationist Rajendra Singh on Wednesday said the floods in Delhi are a human-made disaster, not merely a result of climate change or natural events.
"The flooding in Delhi is the result of misguided development and the obstruction of the Yamuna river's natural flow," he said.
Singh, also known as "Waterman of India", said that the idea of making Delhi flood-free has been discussed by policy makers since the 1960s, but effective action has been lacking.
He said these agencies should set aside political differences and collaborate for the common goal of making Delhi flood and drought-resistant.
A study on "Urban Flooding and its Management" conducted by the irrigation and flood control department identifies east Delhi under the floodplain region and as highly vulnerable to floods.
Despite this, encroachment and development have occurred at a rapid pace in the ecologically-sensitive region over the years.
Letters exchanged between the Delhi forest department and the primary land-owning agency in the city, Delhi Development Authority (DDA), show that 2,480 hectares of land in the Yamuna floodplain has been encroached upon or developed since 2009. PTI GVS
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