New Delhi’s race against time: Can the city outrun surging Yamuna River?

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India’s Central Water Commission has forecasted that the Yamuna River in New Delhi could swell to 208.75 meters between 3-5 pm on Thursday.

This morning at 7 am, the water level had already reached 208.46 meters, triggering an ‘extreme flood alert’ in the national capital and leading to flood waters seeping into the city’s ITO area.

Delhi’s Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, has reportedly asked the Central government to take action and slow down the water discharge from the Hathnikund barrage in Haryana to manage the flooding in Yamuna. In the meanwhile, thousands of residents living in the city’s low-lying areas have been evacuated to safer places as a precautionary measure.

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The persistent heavy rainfall in the capital has caused Yamuna’s water level to surpass the danger mark of 205.33 meters, leading to a rapid increase in water levels. Despite initial reassurances from Chief Minister Kejriwal that the city was not facing an immediate flood threat, the water level had breached and reached an unprecedented high of 207.49 meters by 1 pm on Wednesday, and even exceeded the 208-meter mark on Thursday morning.

Experts attribute the flooding to the intense rainfall that the capital city received over a short span. According to a Central Water Commission official, the water discharged from the Hathnikund barrage in Haryana reached Delhi faster than usual, possibly due to siltation and encroachment, leading to a hastened increase in the water speed.

River Yamuna's water level expected to reach 208.75m, New Delhi on high alert

River Yamuna’s water level expected to reach 208.75m, New Delhi on high alert. Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay.

Numerous areas near the Yamuna were affected by the flood waters, including Boat Club, Monastery Market, Neeli Chhatri Temple, Yamuna Bazar, and more. Other regions like Mayur Vihar, Laxmi Nagar, Sarai Kale Khan, and others are also at risk of flooding if the water levels continue to rise.

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In light of the rising water levels, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) issued an advisory for several cremation grounds near the Yamuna river and recommended using alternate cremation grounds. Furthermore, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) temporarily closed the Yamuna Bank Metro Station due to its inaccessibility caused by the rising water levels.

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Kejriwal provided updates on the situation via social media, stating that due to the escalating water levels in Yamuna, several water treatment plants had to be shut down, potentially affecting water supply in some areas of Delhi. He assured citizens that efforts would be made to resume operations as soon as the water levels recede.

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