ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Rising Waters, Recurrent Challenges


Despite the historical occurrence of flooding in Delhi, the recent inundation has shed light on the reactive approach of government bodies to managing such events. On 13 July 2023, the water levels in the Yamuna river surged to an unprecedented height, surpassing 208 metres and resulting in the flooding of low-lying areas near the banks. This situation broke a record set 45 years ago in 1978 when similar flooding occurred in parts of Delhi. The recurrence of such events raises concerns about the factors contributing to the escalating water levels in the river. Data from the Central Water Commission (CWC) reveals that over 8 lakh cusecs of water were discharged from Hathnikund Barrage this year, which reached Delhi in a shorter period compared to previous years. This phenomenon can be attributed to various factors, including the construction of bridges, encroachments on the river’s banks, and siltation. The construction of bridges and encroachments have narrowed the cross-section through which the water must pass, limiting its flow capacity. As a result, the water from the barrage in Yamunanagar, Haryana, approximately 180 kilometres from Delhi, now reaches the capital in two to three days. This heightened intensity of flooding, coupled with the accelerated speed of the rising waters, surpasses the experiences of the 1978 flood event.

The experiences of the affected individuals belonging from Budaun, Bareilly, and Patna highlight the need for better risk perception and proactive measures. Despite receiving multiple warnings from authorities, including the police and information from various sources such as news channels and social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube, people were hesitant to evacuate promptly. Residents from low-lying areas tended to wait until the water reached ankle length before moving out without seeking any external help, while those residing in relatively higher areas evacuated with their livestock when the water reached mid-waist level, often relying on boats and divers for support. Some of them even reported to paying between `3,000 and `5,000 to divers to seek help in evacuating their livestock.

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Updated On : 24th Jul, 2023
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