Rising Yamuna poses threat to Taj Mahal

September 24th, 2008 - 6:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Lucknow, Sep 24 (IANS) The steadily rising level of the Yamuna river, which is in spate due to heavy rains, could pose a threat to the Taj Mahal in Agra, officials said Wednesday. The rise in the water level of the Yamuna river has been attributed to fresh rainfall in the upper reaches in Himachal Pradesh, from where excess water is being released consistently through two barrages.

“Some 120,000 cusecs of water was released from Hatnikund and Tajewala barrages in Himachal about three days ago following which the river’s level has been steadily going up,” state relief commissioner G.K. Tandon told IANS.

“The additional flow of water has already inundated parts of western Uttar Pradesh, from where the river heads towards Agra, where it could rise above the danger level by Thursday afternoon,” he added.

“The level of the Yamuna has been rising here at a rate of about three inches per hour and the river is just about eight feet below the danger mark of 498 feet,” an official manning a special flood watch post near Agra told IANS on phone.

“About 320,000 cusecs of water was expected to be released from the barrages by Thursday evening. However, more than the rising water level, it is the accelerated current that could be cause of some worry,” he added.

The authorities are keeping a minute to minute watch on the level of the river, which flows along the rear wall of the Taj Mahal and may affect its foundation. However, most are hopeful that no major damage will be caused.

“Since the monument has weathered many a storm over the centuries, I don’t think the rise in water level can cause much harm,” an official said.

Meanwhile, rains claimed 20 more lives in the state, taking the overall toll to 1,122 in the monsoon season that began June 1.

“Of the 1,122 dead, 142 were reported to have been washed away in the flood waters, while as many as 978 died purely on account of rain, thunder and lightning, with the bulk meeting their end under crumbling rustic houses across the vast rural expanse of the state,” Tandon said.

However, respite in rain since Tuesday has provided some relief to the 2.6 million people affected by the current monsoon fury across the country’s most populous state.

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