Vijay Mohan and Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, March 31
While the water level in the Gobind Sagar reservoir at Bhakra Dam is down to just about 14 per cent of its storage capacity, good snowfall over the Himalayas this winter is expected to offset the water deficiency. The storage at this time last year was 33 per cent.
Though the water level at Bhakra (recorded at 1,523 feet today) is down 52 feet from the last year’s corresponding figure, inflow into the reservoir this month is more due to increased snowmelt because of relatively higher day temperature, according to Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) officials.
With less than normal storage, the BBMB cut the water supply to its member states, including Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, by 10 per cent at the start of winter season. The sates had also reduced their demand by up to 30 per cent, sources said. The demand for irrigation also goes down during spring because of the harvest season.
Relatively less snowfall and rainfall last year resulted in the water level go down to 1,656 feet compared to its maximum permissible level of 1,680 feet. Bhakra, which lies on the Sutlej, is primarily snow-fed. The BBMB policy does not permit water level to fall below 1,507 feet to ensure reserves are available to meet the demand for irrigation and drinking water. Power cannot be generated if water level falls below 1,462 feet.
“The average inflow at present is 8,800 cusecs as compared to 6,750 cusecs last year,” an official said. “Over the last two years, we were monitoring inflows as per ‘dry’ pattern, the lowest of three categories. Now it is between the ‘dependable’ and ‘mean’ categories, which places us in a fairly comfortable position,” he said.
Higher temperatures during spring season could be taken as an indication of a good monsoon, though the Meteorological Department was yet to issue its long-term forecast, BBMB officials said. Earlier this week, a private weather forecast agency had predicted that the monsoon could be less than normal.
The level at Pong Dam is 17 per cent of its capacity, as compared to last 10 year’s average of 28 per cent. BBMB officials said low water level at Pong would enable them to carry out technical inspection of water channels.
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