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Pre-emptive spillage at Bhakra

The Bhakra reservoir is at a critical juncture and rising by about 1 ft a day. Bhakra has a design full reservoir level of 1690 ft while the practical limit has been fixed at 1680 ft. According to an earlier decision of the BBMB, the level should not be more than 1650 ft as on July 31.

At what stage the spillage should be started is the issue. For giving flood protection a controlled release of about 5,000 to 10,000 cusecs in July would slow down the filling and give additional cushion to absorb monsoon inflows in August-September and thereby minimise the flood risk to Punjab. On the other hand, in case there is excessive pre-emptive spillage in July and then later in August/September if the monsoon is deficient, then it may result in an incomplete filling of the reservoir .

The final monsoon forecast of the monsoon issued by the IMD on June 14 gives the probability of deficit rain as 43 % while for normal rain it is 48 % and a probability of 9% for excess rainfall in the north-west region. It is therefore a mixed scenario with 43% chance of deficit rain and 57% for normal or excess rain. Given this position, it would not be correct to commence pre-emptive spilling at an early stage in July since the 43% probability of deficit rain cannot be ignored.

Assessments have been made with different projections of inflows and the conclusion is that if the trends show that the level of 1670 will be reached by Aug 25 or earlier, only then pre-emptive spillage would be justified.

Increasing the filling limit to 1685 carries with the increased risk of flooding, but in case this limit is fixed for 20th Sept, the risk will be minimised. Since Punjab is the biggest beneficiary of irrigation as well as power from Bhakra, the economic benefits would justify the increased limit.

The counter-argument is that while all the partner states would benefit from the increased storage limit, the attendant risk of flooding (in case spillway has to be operated) would be entirely to Punjab. This problem could be addressed by fixing the limit as on Sept 25 instead of Sept 20. Further, the Centre could be asked to compensate Punjab in case the remote chance of flood after Sept 25 occurs. If a limit of 1685 ft is adopted as on Sept 25, it would still leave a margin of 5 ft to absorb any excess inflows after Sept 25.

In any situation the benefits have to be weighed against the risks. Punjab as the biggest stakeholder must make this assessment . To play over-safe with a limit of 1680 and surrender the benefits up to 1685 may not be justified. It is for Punjab to take a call. At a minimum Punjab must assess the present situation and decide so that the benefits of minimising spillage and higher filling are maximised while the risk is addressed

Er Padamjit Singh, Chief Engineer (retd), PSEB, Patiala

Price rise

A steep rise in the prices of food and vegetables has become a cause for concern for every section of society. It has upset one's kitchen budget. One is going to face more inflationary pressures in other household items, petrol, diesel, milk, LPG, etc.


Release PoWs

The fate of 54-odd Indian PoWs (prisoners of war), held captive in Pakistan, has been debated for the umpteenth time. The plight of their relatives in India is definitely miserable. It is not that there are no Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails but India feels shy of acknowledging them just as Pakistan is not doing so. The time has come for both countries to shed their ego and respect the sentiments of the relatives of PoWs. They should sit together and acknowledge the PoWs held captive by them and release them soon.


China's intrusion

China's intrusions into Indian territory have almost become a routine affair. It seems to have developed an ineluctable habit of backstabbing India. Recently, the Chinese troops, the PLA, had intruded as deep as 19 km into our territory. Also, it has been at loggerheads with Japan, Philippines, Tibet and others. It will be wise to construe all peace talks with India as false promises. Instead of believing its false promises, we should make elaborate security arrangement along the LAC as it seems up to no good.


Welfare schemes

Actually no public welfare scheme launched by the government is impractical or bad in itself, but it is the poor implementation which brings a bad name to the government. The ambitious 11,000-crore mid-day meal project was turned into a tragedy by the implementers of the scheme. It is time the government took stringent measures and supervised all welfare schemes meant for the public.


Awe-inspiring movie

The film “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” not only transports the viewer to the Partition days, but also portrays the murder of his family and near and dear ones in Multan and his listening and acting on the advice of his dying father which read as “bhag Milkha bhag”.

Had he not heeded his father's advice when he was 10 years old, he would not have, perhaps, brought the glory to India in the Olympics and the Asian Games and tasted phenomenal success. Hats off to the legendary sportsperson whose teenage life was full of struggle, dedication and hard work!

B M RAWLLEY, Zirakpur



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