Rajat Sharma


AKBDelhi is witnessing unprecedented flood with the river Yamuna flowing at a historic high level of 208.62 metres, surpassing the 1978 record of 207.47 metrs. Ring Road near ITO was flooded on Thursday, even as water flowed on the main road in the posh Civil Lines of Old Delhi. Yamuna water level continued to rise as more water was released from Hathnikund barrage in Haryana. One side of GT Karnal Road has been flooded and only one carriageway is being used for traffic. Flood water reached the Delhi Chief Minister’s residence on Thursday morning. Yamuna Bank Metro station had to be closed, while schools and colleges have been closed till Sunday. Thousands of people living near the Yamuna banks have been rendered homeless. Several teams of NDRF are working round-the-clock to evacuate people. The localities worse affected are: Yamuna Bazar, Monastery Market, Usmanpur, Yamuna Khadar, ISBT, Mayur Vihar, Garhi Mandu, Okhla, Wazirabad, Majnun Ka Tila and several parts of East and South-East Delhi. It is good that both the Lt. Governor and Delhi government are working in coordination and they are on the same page. The question arises: if Yamuna water level rises every year because of release of water from Hathni Kund barrage in Haryana, why solid, permanent measures were not taken? It is true the Yamuna is in spate because of heavy rains in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, but the question arises, why river bank areas like Yamuna Bazar and Yamuna Khadar are flooded every year? The answer: lack of proper desilting of Yamuna river and its drains. Had there been proper desilting, it could have enhanced the water carrying capacity of the river, and water would not have entered adjoining localities. Every year, tall claims are made. The Yamuna Action Plan was prepared in 1993. It was supposed to be implemented fully by 2003. It did not happen. In 2003, Phase 2 of Yamuna Action Plan was implemented. It was supposed to be complete by 2020, but it did not happen. Earlier, Congress and BJP used to level allegations at each other. Kejriwal came to power and he promised complete desilting of Yamuna in the next five years. The deadline was extended time and again. This is the reason why people living in the vicinity of Yamuna river face the brunt of flood fury every year.


With the met department issuing a red alert about possible heavy rains in Shimla, Kullu and Solan, people in Himachal Pradesh are living in fear. The state government has confirmed the deaths of 88 persons, with 16 others missing, 873 roads blocked and bus services suspended on 1,193 routes. There is widespread devastation caused by floods and landslides. The road connecting the tourist spot Manali has been washed away. NDRF teams fixed zip lines to evacuate stranded people wearing safety harness over the swollen river Beas. Nearly 50,000 people stranded in Kullu district have been evacuated, claimed chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu. Nearly 300 people, mostly tourists, stuck near Chandratal Lake in Lahaul and Spiti district, at a height of 14,100 feet, are facing evacuation challenges. Relief teams are working in sub-zero temperature, in three to four feet of snow to repair the road leading to Chandratal Lake. India TV reporter Pawan Nara met a group of teachers who had gone to Manali for a seminar. They were stranded in their hotel, and heaved a sigh of relief after three days of staying without water, electricity and food. The hotel owner did not take money from them, and instead gave them Rs 20,000 for their safe return, the teachers said. Tourists are leaving Manali in groups, but those stranded in Mandi are facing problems. In Uttarakhand, 341 roads were blocked in the last 24 hours. 68 roads were reopened for traffic on Sunday night, but 273 roads are still blocked. Met department has issued an orange alert for Thursday. So far, 15 people have died due to rains and flood in Uttarakhand. I thank the people of Himachal Pradesh for helping stranded tourists, despite the chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu’s claim that government is trying to reach out to them. Most of the stranded tourists complained that the state government did not come to the rescue of stranded people.


The question now is, why such a heavy downpour in northern India? Will this be an annual phenomenon? Has the downpour got to do anything with Greenhouse Effect? Is it a sign of climate change? Our reporter Nirnay Kapoor spoke to IIT, Gandhinagar scientists. One of them, Prof. Bimal Mishra referred to a research done by IIT on this topic. The conclusion reached was: people in India must be prepared to face extreme weather conditions, which may occur almost every year, frequently. Prof. Mishra said, countries across the world are doing their bit to save the Earth from global warming, but its effect will be noticeable only after 30-40 years. For the next one or two decades, people will have to be prepared to face natural calamities. In layman’s language, scientists want to convey that it will be too hot in summer, too much rains during monsoon, and severe, biting cold during winter. Situations may arise when people will have to face severe drought during summer, and flash floods during monsoon. It may seem simple, but the danger is big. These extreme weather conditions may result in change in our crop cycles, like rabi and kharif crops. This will affect world economy, may cause food shortage, cause epidemics. Scientists say, nature is giving us messages constantly: Be on alert, if the world fails to act unitedly, people should be ready to face nature’s fury.

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