M A I N   N E W S

More water in dams, farmers upbeat as late rains bring cheer in Punjab
In the last one week, Pong Reservoir level has gone up by 23 feet
Jangveer Singh/TNS

Chandigarh, August 22
A late surge in rains has raised the Pong Dam level dramatically. However, in what could be grim news for partner states of Punjab - Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, Bhakra, the dam that matters the most, might attain a level even lower than the drought year of 2009 despite the late rainfall.

Heavy rains in the catchment areas of both the dams have seen their water levels rise in the last 10 days. The increase in the water level in the case of Pong Dam has been dramatic. One senior engineer of Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) said, “We never expected it to fill up so much so suddenly”.

Sources said the water level in the Pong was 1,329 feet on August 15. In one week, it rose by a whopping 23 feet. The water level at the dam went up by nearly four feet during the last 24 hours. The dam has the maximum filling level of 1,390 feet. Though the dam may not attain this level, engineers say that the situation is comfortable for Pong.

But the picture is grim for Bhakra Dam due to its huge Gobind Sagar reservoir. Water level recorded at the Bhakra today was 1,613 feet. The level on the same day last year was 1,668 feet. This despite the fact that the level had increased by 15 feet in the past one week due to heavy rains in its catchment area. The water level has seen an increase of 55 feet since July 21 when it was recorded at 1,555 feet prompting cuts in water supply to the partner states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. The dam water level was 1598 feet on August 15.

An irrigation expert said the Bhakra Dam was likely to attain a level of 1635 feet till the end of the filling season that ends around September 20. If this happens the level of the dam would be 45 feet less than the filling level of 1680 feet. The level would also be less than the drought year level of 1640 recorded in 2009.

Punjab Irrigation Chief Engineer Amarjit Singh Dullet is, however, confident that the situation would improve. He said a meeting of partner states of Punjab would be held on August 30 to review the decision of 10 per cent water supply cut from the Bhakra and Pong dams. Dullet said the dip in the water level has affected power generation at the Bhakra.

Similarly, continuous and moderate rains in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and its catchment areas in Punjab have increased water level in the Ranjit Sagar Dam.

Meanwhile, farmers in Punjab see a ray of hope after the late rainfall. Punjab Agriculture Director Dr Mangal Singh said the areas around Chandigarh, Mohali and Nawanshahr as well as the Jalandhar and Amritsar belt had received widespread rains. This had provided some relief to Punjab farmers who had been using diesel generators to meet their irrigation needs due to limited power supply. (With inputs from Arun Sharma and Bipin Bharadwaj)





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