Bhakra authorities caution Punjab on flood water

August 18th, 2008 - 11:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Aug 18 (IANS) The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) Monday cautioned the Punjab government that water was likely to be released from the Bhakra dam in Sutlej river if the present spell of heavy rain in the region continued.The BBMB authorities have asked the state government to take precautionary measures downstream of the river.

BBMB chairman U.C. Mishra Monday told reporters here that the water level at Bhakra dam near Nangal, 125 km from here, was at 1,670 feet. He said the dam authorities will release water from its gates if the water level at the dam’s Gobind Sagar reservoir went up beyond 1,680 feet.

“We are not trying to create panic but have only sent a letter of caution to the Punjab government in this regard,” Mishra said.

Five districts in Punjab - Moga, Ferozepur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur - are already reeling under flood water following breaches in the Sutlej river embankment at various places.

Over 150 villages in these districts were under five to 10 feet of water following continuous rain over the last three days.

The army was called in by the district authorities to help marooned villagers.

Thousands of acres of land with standing paddy and other crops are already under flood waters.

There was some relief Monday as rain was not reported from most parts of Punjab and the water level started receding.

Affected people were critical of the state government for not helping them during the floods. They said they were without food, water and medicines for over 48 hours.

“The let-up in the rain in Himachal Pradesh (the catchment area for Sutlej river) will ease the situation in the Bhakra reservoir. But if the level crosses 1,680 feet, we will have to release the water as it can otherwise be dangerous for the dam itself,” Mishra said.

The last major flooding in Punjab was in 1988 when the Bhakra gates were opened and nearly half of Punjab was inundated. Terrorists had subsequently gunned down the then BBMB chairman B.N. Kumar, holding him responsible for the flooding and deaths in Punjab.

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