Rain fury in north India, rivers in spate (Roundup)

September 23rd, 2010 - 12:21 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) Many rivers in north India were in spate Wednesday, sparking fears that the flood-like situation in parts of Punjab, Haryana and Bihar may aggravate. In Delhi, the Yamuna river crossed the critical 207-metre mark, raising flood fears.
Moderate to heavy rainfall in Himachal Pradesh led to most of its rivers swelling and officials said more showers could aggravate the flood-like situation in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana.

“The water levels in the Beas and Satluj rivers have increased abnormally due to continuous rainfall in their catchment areas. But the rivers are still flowing below the danger mark,” Kullu Deputy Commissioner B.M. Nanta told IANS.

At least 80 tourists, including foreigners, were still stranded in Sangla Valley in due to landslides for the past few days, Kinnaur Deputy Commissioner Mamta Chaudhary said.

Incessant rains have also caused massive landslides on National Highways 21 and 22 in Shimla, Kinnaur, Mandi and Kullu districts, hampering vehicular traffic in Himachal Pradesh.

In the national capital, the water level in the Yamuna crossed the 207-metre mark as more water from the Hathinikund barrage in Haryana reached the city, aggravating the threat of floods.

Breaking a 32-year-record, Haryana released a maximum 744,507 cusecs water from Hathinikund barrage Monday.

The water level in the Yamuna reached 207.05 metres Wednesday evening, 2.22 metres above the danger mark of 204.83 metres. It is expected to rise further to 207.30 metres by Thursday.

An official of the flood control department told IANS that the authorities were “fully geared” to fight the situation.

“Low-lying areas have been evacuated. There has not been any major discharge from Hathinikund in the past two days, the situation will remain under control,” he said.

A key bridge over the Yamuna, more than a century old and linking the capital with its eastern district and western Uttar Pradesh, was closed to traffic Tuesday as the river water crossed the danger mark.

This necessitated diversion of traffic to other roads and the National Highway 24 that runs from Delhi to Aligarh and Moradabad in western Uttar Pradesh, causing traffic jams.

Authorities in Haryana’s flood-affected Yamunanagar district Wednesday called in the army to help stem damage to the Yamuna river embankment near the Hathinikund barrage even as the floodwaters continued to recede for the second day.

Villages around the Hathinikund barrage and the Tajewala headworks were being threatened by floodwaters as the 4,000-foot embankment started collapsing since Tuesday night.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, meanwhile, announced aid of Rs.500 crore for flood-hit Uttarakhand and decided to send an inter-ministerial team to assess the damage as rescue and relif operations continued there.

The grave flood situation in Bihar was marginally dented Wednesday as the water level of the Gandak river receded somewhat. However, thousands of people are still affected by the deluge.

“It is a positive sign. The situation has improved,” he said.

The Gandak overflowed after Nepal released over two lakh cusecs of water into the river, following heavy rains in the Himalayan republic. The river’s main embankment was breached last week and more breaches occurred Sunday.

The overflowing Gandak waters affected thousands of people in Gopalganj, Saran and Siwan districts. It destroyed standing paddy, sugar and maize crops in hundreds of hectares and forced people to flee their homes in low-lying areas.

The disaster management department’s Principal Secretary Sri Vyasji told IANS that the water level was receding.

Thousands of people are staying on the embankment and hundreds in five mega relief camps set up by the government Tuesday. Others are staying on roofs of their houses, atop government buildings and schools as their villages were still under water.

A district official said the displaced people would be able to return to their homes in the next couple of days only if the river water level does not rise.

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