Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, May 5
With the Himalayas having received heavy snow during the winters, Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) is expecting massive inflows into the reservoirs at Bhakra and Pong. Consequently, the board has advised beneficiary states to take proactive measures ahead of the dams’ filling season to deal effectively with the situation.
According to BBMB sources, the average depth of snow cover in Bhakra’s catchment area at present is 480 mm as compared to 230 mm last year. This translates to fresh water equivalent of 19-20 billion cubic metres. About a third of the catchment area lies in Himachal Pradesh and the remaining in Tibet along the course of the Sutlej.
In 2019, there was excess inflow into Bhakra and Pong dams following freak weather events, causing floods in some parts of Punjab. “Last year, the inflows were about 4-5 billion cubic metres (BCM). This year, it could be 6-12 BCM depending on the snow melt which varies due to weather conditions,” a senior BBMB official said.
BBMB officials said the situation is being monitored regularly. “A committee comprising chief engineers of member states has been set up for the purpose, which video-confers every week and decides upon pro-active releases and other related steps to be taken,” he said. With summers setting in, inflows are increasing due to snow melt.
States are being advised to draw additional water and fill up their canals and drains so that reservoir levels are depleted appropriately to cater for the expected inflows. “We are stressing that the states use canal water to the maximum extent possible and also use this for recharging ground water,” the official said. The dam’s official filling season lasts from May 21 to September 30.
Already, the level at Bhakra dam is over 30 feet lower than that of last year. Data compiled by the Central Water Commission show that the dam’s reservoir at present is filled up to about 33 per cent of its total capacity. While the storage was 56 per cent at this time last year, the present level is more than the average for the past 10 years for this time. At Pong dam, the present storage is about 58 per cent as compared to 46 per cent last year and the 10-year average of 29 per cent.
The average inflow into Bhakra during the past 40 years was 4.63 BCM, while the outflow was 4.04 BCM. The highest inflow and outflow during this period was in 1990, recorded at 7 BCM and 5.02 BCM, respectively.
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