With monsoon entering the last month in Punjab, the water-deficient state is staring at a below normal rainfall, which has even failed to lift the level in the Bhakra Dam reservoir to the desired mark.
Farmers in three states – Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan – are dependent on the water from Bhakra for irrigation. On September 6, water level in Bhakra was 1661 feet, 19 feet lower than the designated Rule Curve level of 1680 feet that it should have reached ending August 31.
Currently, 4.622 billion cubic meters (BCM) water is available in the dam against its live capacity of 6.229 BCM which is 25.7 per cent less than the capacity. Experts blame it on below average rain coupled with heavy release of water before the beginning of the monsoon period. The dam also less inflow of water due to lesser melting of snow in the higher reaches. Lesser water may also impact power generation.
Before the monsoon period, Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) had brought the dam level down to 1,560 feet. The total capacity of the dam is around 1,690 feet.
“If the dam is not filled to its optimum capacity, it will not be able to supply the required water for irrigation in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan where a large number of farmers do not have tubewell facility to irrigate their crops,” said Gulab Singh Narwal, Member Irrigation, BBMB. He blamed ‘the mismanagement’ on a local committee of Bhakra Dam.
“BBMB chairman, Member Irrigation and chief engineer (central water commission), Chandigarh are not members of this committee, which is regulating the dam waters on its own and releasing it mindlessly. In 50 days beginning April 1, a huge 2,51,985 cusecs water was released to Pakistan from Ferozpur. The dam level was brought down to 1560 feet on June 8 as against 1604 feet last year on the same day,” said Narwal.
“Had we saved even half of the water which was released to Pakistan, the levels of both the reservoirs – Bhakra and Pong – would have been much higher,” said a senior officer at BBMB.
“We have to save Punjab from flooding but at the same time we need to look at the water demand of the three states for irrigation in the depletion period that begins September end and last till April,” added Narwal.
The Member Irrigation also claimed that the BBMB senior officials misled the central government by forecasting that 22 Billion Cubic meter (BCM) water will flow into the reservoir due to melting snow in Sutlej river’s catchment area. “Only 4 BCM water reached the reservoir,” said Narwal.
Chairman cum Managing director (CMD) Punjab Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) A Venu Prasad while talking to The Indian Express said that power generation from hydel projects including Bhakra has come down for the past over two weeks.
Meanwhile, less rainfall has also put huge pressure of the water table of Punjab this year when paddy season is on. June to September is considered the monsoon period in Punjab, and around 490 mm rain is considered normal.
Beginning June and till September 4, Punjab recorded 379.8 mm rainfall. The normal rain for the corresponding period is 402.7 mm. There is 23mm (6 percent) shortfall, as per IMD, Chandigarh office, data.
While rainfall in June was normal — 50.3 mm rain was recorded against the required 50.4 mm, July was a little surplus with 185.2 mm rain against the normal 176.2 mm. August, however, saw 129.9 mm rain against the normal required160 mm. The normal rain for September is 125 mm. In the first four days of the last month of the monsoon season, the state has received 14.9 mm rain.
The district with highly deficit rainfall has been Hoshiarpur with 55 percent shortfall, Mansa recording 49% deficit rain, Tarn Taran (40 percent), Nawanshahr (35 percent), and Jalandhar (31 percent). Apart from this Patiala, and Moga too received 18 percent and 17 percent, deficit rain, respectively.
Faridkot, Mukatsar, and Sangrur are the only three districts that have witnessed heavy rains to date with 94%, 53%, and 28% surplus rain, respectively.
Even in Haryana, the deficit so far is 5 percent, with the state to date recording 357.7 mm monsoon rain against the normal of 376.2 mm.
The joint capital of both the states, Chandigarh, has received 9 percent surplus rain so far.
The average level of other dams in Punjab- Thein and Pong – is lesser this year at this point in time compared to even the last 10 years average level. Pong is at 75 per cent and Thein is at 58 per cent. During the same time last year, Pong was at 89 per cent and Thein was at 87 per cent.
Till September 3, Thein dam’s level was 514.25 meter against the total capacity of the dam is 527.91 meter. Pong dam recorded 418.98 metres against the total capacity of the dam is 423.67 meter.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines