Be ready for high water inflow: BBMB to states

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27

With Bhakra Dam’s catchment area receiving more than double the snow than last year, water inflow into the dam’s reservoir in the pre-monsoon period is expected to be higher than normal in the coming summers.

This has prompted the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) to raise the issue with its member states for reworking their water demand and undertaking proactive measures to manage additional water.

“The average snowfall across the catchment area of Sutlej and Beas rivers that lies across Himachal Pradesh and adjoining parts of Tibet, has been 540 mm so far this season as compared to 245 mm last year,” a senior BBMB official said.

“Consequently, we are looking at frozen reserves equivalent to 22 billion cubic metres (BCM). Out of this, we expect a melt-off of 35 to 50 per cent, depending upon vagaries of the weather and temperature variations,” he added. This implies that the snow-melt could produce up to 11 BCM of fresh water. Last year, the melt-off was 7 BCM till July.

The two major reservoirs in Himachal Pradesh, Bhakra on the Sutlej and Pong on the Beas, have a maximum storage capacity of 6.2 and 6.1 BCM, respectively. According to the Central Water Commission (CWC), the present storage available in these reservoirs is about 3 BCM and 4 BCM, respectively, which is 36 per cent above normal for this time of the year.

“We have raised the issue with Punjab and Haryana Governments during our recent board meetings, asking them to draw more water,” the official said.

The BBMB has also recommended that the Punjab Government strengthen the embankments along rivers and seasonal rivulets to mitigate the risk of flooding.

Increased snowfall

  • 540 mm is the average snowfall across the catchment area of Sutlej and Beas rivers in Himachal and adjoining parts of Tibet.
  • 245 mm was the average snowfall during this period last year.

Frozen reserves

  • According to a BBMB official, the board is looking at frozen reserves equivalent to 22 billion cubic metres. A melt-off of 35 to 50% is expected.
  • This implies that the snow-melt may produce up to 11-BCM fresh water.

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