No need to panic at water, power situation, says Bhakra authority


Chandigarh : The monsoon is forecast to be late and below normal, raising the spectre of a water and power crisis, but the authority managing the Bhakra and Pong dams Thursday said there was no need for panic. Officials were, in fact, gathered here for a meeting to discuss the situation.

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The meeting was held against the backdrop of reports that the Bhakra dam, located 150 km from here in Himachal Pradesh, would be temporarily closed as the water level was fast depleting due of a decreased inflow of water from catchment areas and the delayed monsoon.

Power generation from the Bhakra-Beas Management Board (BBMB) units at Bhakra, Pong and Dehar power houses has also dipped in recent weeks due to low water availability.

BBMB officials said here Thursday that the situation was under control and there was no need to panic.

The start of the monsoon season has been delayed across most parts of India and the India Meteorological Department (IMD) this week forecast a below-normal monsoon.

Senior officials from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh attended the meeting at the BBMB headquaters here to discuss the water and power shortage and the steps individual states need to take to tide over with the situation.

“There is no need to panic and the situation is well under our control. The water level is gradually increasing,” a senior BBMB official told reporters after the meeting.

BBMB joint director (spokesman) V.P. Sharma told IANS: “This is not a new thing that BBMB is facing, as it is quite usual because of the untimely monsoon season. We have faced similar situations many times in the past. The media has blown this issue out of proportion this time.”

He said the BBMB is fulfilling its basic purpose of providing water for irrigation.

“Electricity generation is just the by-product of the process. However, BBMB is generating 10,000 to 14,000 million units of electricity every year at the cost of 15 to 16 paisa per unit,” Sharma pointed out.

“There has been no reduction in the generation of electricity. We are generating more electricity these days. As of yesterday, 352 lakh (35.2 million) units were generated whereas the average generation of electricity per day is around 350 lakh units,” he added.

Sharma said that every day nearly 20,000 cusecs of water was being released for irrigation and other agriculture related activities.

“In the last few days, the demand of water for agriculture has increased, so we are releasing increased amount of water than normal days. Electricity generation is also high,” he added.

This month BBMB had generated more electricity by Wednesday (June 24) than it had generated in the whole of June last year, Sharma pointed out.

The 225-metre high concrete Bhakra dam was described as the “temple of modern, resurgent India” by the first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

BBMB officials said that the feeding period for the Bhakra dam’s Gobind Sagar reservoir is between May 21 to Sep 20 during which rainwater and water from melting snows in the mountains reach it from the catchment areas.

“During these four months, around 60,000 cusecs of water enters Bhakra every day and by the end of this feeding period, water level easily reaches 1,680 feet which is the maximum level,” said Sharma.

The water level at Bhakra this week was at a low of 1,504 feet. The lowest water level at the dam is at 1,462 feet.