The floodgates of Sukhna lake were opened on Monday after the water level in the lake crossed the danger mark of 1163 feet. The last time the floodgates were opened in a similar situation was a decade ago, in August 2008.
As Chandigarh was pounded by rain for the third straight day and the water level rose alarmingly, officials decided to open three floodgates. The gates were opened at 12.46 pm and closed at 6.32 pm.
UT Chief Engineer Mukesh Anand told Chandigarh Newsline, “In order to avoid overflowing, it was decided to open the gates. Punjab and Haryana governments have already been informed about it. If the rains continue tomorrow, we will have to open them again. Indeed, it is a good sign for Sukhna Lake. We do not think that there will be any chance of the lake drying up in the coming several months.” The water level of Sukhna Lake decreased in 2017.
The two gates were lifted up nine inches in phases of three inches each over six hours for the controlled release of the water into the Sukhna Choe from the regulatory end. “In the afternoon, we decided to release the water when it touched 1163 ft because the water flow from the Sukhna Catchment Area was extremely fast,” said Executive Engineer, Inderjeet Gulati.
The release was regulated to keep pace with the rapid water flow into the Sukhna Catchment Area from Nepli forest, Kansal and Saketri village. “Initially, we lifted the two gates three inches and then three inches twice more until the gates were up nine inches. We closed the floodgates when the water flow from the Sukhna Catchment Area started decreasing,” said an official.
The water level remains 1163 ft, but the officials said the flow into the lake had come down substantially and did not pose the same danger as in the morning. A team from the engineering wing is camping overnight at Sukhna Lake to keep an eye out for any further increase in the water level.
Chief Engineer Gulati said the gates would be opened again if the water level rose to 1163.2 or 1163.3 ft. The released water crossed Kishangarh, Industrial Area and Makhanmajra before joining the Ghaggar. Officials were on alert since last Saturday when the water rose to 1162 feet when it started pouring with a vengeance.
People from nearby villages, including Saketri, Kishangarh, Kansal, and visitors at Sukhna Lake thronged the regulatory end to witness the historic release of water. Policemen struggled to keep mobile phone-camera wielding crowds from going down the stairs towards the floodgates to take photos and videos of the gushing water.
When the decision was taken to open the gates at 12:30 pm, an alert was sounded and police personnel had to push back residents of Kishangarh rushing to see the gates being opened. Barricades were installed restricting the movements to and from Kishangarh village on all sides.
In 2017, it was the low water level in Sukhna that was of concern, prompting the Punjab and Haryana High Court to ask the UT Administration to suggest ways to prevent it from drying. Scientists from the National Institute of Hydrology (NIH) Roorkee had also conducted a study of the lake. The UT Administration had at the time pointed to a trend of the lake drying up every four-five years.