Saturday, August 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Power, water share of Punjab, Haryana slashed
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
It is like scratching the bottom of the barrel for more. No water in the Pong and Ranjit Sagar dams means life between January and June next year will be tough and punishing. With a gloomy picture ahead and the Bhakra being the only remaining source of assured supply, the share of water and power for the entire region has been slashed.




Ranjit Sagar





Minimum level




August 9,2002




2001 (Sept20)




2000 "




1999 "




* All figures in elevation ft.
* September 20 denotes the end of the filling season

The partner states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and two other users, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, have been informed about the situation which has no answer other than imposing a cut. Targets for power generation have been pruned by 20 per cent while water shares have been cut to the tune of 10 per cent to 15 per cent, said sources.

A final decision on future allocations till June, 2003, will be made at a top-level meeting scheduled in the next 10 days. The cuts of water and power could be even more harsh if it does not rain this month, said sources.

If the dams have no water to release then power generation has to suffer. So far it is easily among the worst year with no rains since the rivers were harnessed in the late 1950s and the early 1960s. The share of water and power of the partner states is fixed on the basis of three parameters that change according to the inflow of water in the reservoirs. The three parameters are fixed as “dry”, “dependable” and “mean”. The last is the best followed by “dependable” and “dry” condition is the worst scenario. This year it has been even lower than dry conditions, said sources.

A cut on water is part of a long term planning to conserve it till the onset of the monsoon next year. If the outflow is increased now it will create a drinking water crises six months later. Moreover the outflows at 21,000 cusecs from the Bhakra match those of the previous year.

Chairman of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) Rakesh Nath admits ‘‘ the situation is grim.’’ “This year we are facing a position which is unique in itself”.

In case of the Bhakra — the biggest hydropower dam in the country — the previous two seasons had been classified as “dry season”.

Now this year it is even below dry season and Pong which is largely rain fed is even worse. Mr Nath explains the snow melt has reduced as the night temperatures have dropped thus the inflows have dropped.

Adding to the problem is the fact that the Ranjit Sagar Dam located on the Punjab-Jammu and Kashmir border is close to dried up. Just 10 feet of water is left before the dam hits bottom.

Already the Ranjit Sagar Dam authorities have said that they have no water to pump in the Ravi Beas Link at Madhopur headworks.

Member Irrigation, BBMB, Mr S.K. Duggal, says the inflow into the Bhakra today was 45,000 cusecs today which is less than what it is during the worst dry season.

The outflow has been 21,000 cusecs and another 7,000 cusecs is being released from Pong. Sources said that even if it rains in the plains the demand for irrigation purposes will drop.

A good portion of the water being released for the use of the Indian Army posted along the borders and it is the canals which carry the water there.

In the previous month BBMB had released more water for allowing plantation of the paddy crop.

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