ON AUGUST 1, over a month after monsoon hit Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, the Bhakra Dam recorded decade’s lowest water level and the second-lowest since 1997. In 2004, the dam had recorded the all-time lowest level on the same date. Officials said that in this situation, the states that are depending on the Bhakra Dam water need to conserve rainwater by installing water-recharging facilities and changing the ‘flood irrigation methodology’. They added there was sufficient rainfall in the catchment area this year.
Since 1997 till date, there were four years when Bhakra could not touch even 1,600-ft mark on the same day. The dam can store water up to 1,683 ft and by the end of July, it touches 1,630 to 1,640 ft mark generally.
According to the available records on August 1, 2018, the water level stood at 1,568 ft, against 1,629 ft last year on the same day. Before this, the dam’s lowest level was in 1997 (1,573 ft), in 2004 (1,541 feet), in 2009 (1,571 ft) on same day.
Mainly Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan states are the major user of Bhakra’s water mainly for the irrigation as well as drinking purpose. Director, water regulation, Bhakra dam, Satish Singla said that despite good normal rain in the catchment area of the dam, the level of water is low because of 50 per cent less snow melting in hills during the summers this year”. He added that still two months of rain are left and if good rain remains continued in the catchment are then the dam will have good reservoir.
Another Senior officer at BBMB Nangal, requesting not to be quoted, said that the states which are depending on the Bhakra for irrigation purpose should also take the responsibility by replacing ‘flood irrigation’ methodology with ‘sprinkler and drip irrigation’ systems on major portion. “There is hardly any efforts are being done to conserve the rain water by these states mainly Punjab during good monsoon and around 60% water goes in the drains instead of using it for water recharging or storing it,” added he.”
We had taken up this matter with Punjab officials number of times but of no use,” added he. Agricultural experts in Punjab too said that farmers can always install a water re-charging plant close to their tube wells where excessive water of their fields during rains can be put and it will also up the water level to good extent and save the crop from getting damaged due to excessive water.