Dams · Yamuna River

Floods & Flood Monitoring in Yamuna: July 2018

The release of around 1.31 lakh cusecs of water in Yamuna from Hathnikund barrage at 09:00 hours on July 26, 2018, was certainly first surge of flood this monsoon in the river. But no one expected, most are still in the dark that the release would multiply by over five times in just two days! It is almost a month after the Southwest monsoon arrived. By this time the river usually floods couples of times.

Looking at the lack of significant rainfall in the catchment area over past weeks, the flood is unexpected and has taken many by surprise. The Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Delhi Government has issued warning for flood plain farmers and human settlements close to river banks, but the warning does not seem to commensurate with the flood peak that is likely to hit the capital in next day or two.

23 Yamuna Flood Chart 1963-2016
Bar chart by Irrigation & Flood Control Dept, Delhi showing history of floods in Yamuna river since 1963.

Yamuna has already crossed warning (204 m) and danger level (204.83) at Old Delhi Railway Bridge (ORB), Delhi. The High Flood Level is 207.49 meters, reached on Sept 6,1978 after around 7 lakh cusecs (cubic feet per second) water was released in Yamuna on 3rd Sept 1978 at 04:00 hrs from Tajewala barrage, that was decommissioned and replaced by Hathnikund barrage in early 1990s. The flood monitoring of River Yamuna began in 1963.

Since then, the river has seen high floods in 1988, 1995, 2010 and 2013. The 2010 and 2013 floods also crossed 207 metres mark but fell short of 1978 level.

However, for the last three days, there has been significant rain in the Yamuna catchment in Himachal, Uttrakhand, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The river has started swelling and what first was believed to be a mild flood spell is turning out to be big flood event.

10 Yamuna River at Tiladi, Badkot, Uttarkashi
Floods in Yamuna River, Naugaon Uttarkashi, 28 July 2018 (Image source, Tilak Ramola) 

The discharge of about 2 lakh cusecs flood can cause a low level flood in Delhi. Discharges between 3 to 5 lakh cusecs can result in medium scale flood in the capital. And the discharge beyond 5 lakh cusec from Hathnikund can bring a big flood in Delhi submerging floodplains and threatening the embankments.

Usually the first flood spell reaches Delhi in about 72 hours. Once river bed and adjoining area are saturated by rain and river discharges, the flood water takes about 60 hours to reach the threshold of Delhi.  As per CWC forecast, the discharges mentioned in the table below will be taking about 62 hour’s time to reach Delhi.  

Discharge from Hathini Kund Barrage on 28 July 2018

SN Time Discharge

( In lakh cusecs)

1 0700 hrs 1,80,000
2 0800 hrs 1,93,607
3 0900 hrs 2,11,874
4 1000 hrs 2,55,137
5 1100 hrs 3,11,190
6 1200 hrs 3,56,717
7 1300 hrs 4,24,763
8 1400 hrs 4,80,557
9 1500 hrs 5,03,925
10 1600 hrs 5,03,925
11 1700 hrs 5,27,362
12 1800 hrs 6,05,949
13 1900 hrs 5,63,186
14 2000 hrs 5,63,186

Flood situation at different locations along Yamuna:

Badkot, Uttarkashi The river has reportedly engulfed several adjoining farmlands at Tiladi ghat. An electric poll has been washed away at Kharadi and retaining wall of an under construction bridge has also been damaged at Than village. The bridge, incidentally was washed away in 2010 floods and has not been rebuilt since then.


Yamuna River water level at Mungra Bridge Naugaon, 28 July 2018 (Map source; CWC & Image by Tilak Ramola) 

At Naugaon, the river has touched 1059.60 metres mark on 28 July 2018 around 12 hours at Centre Water Commission (CWC) level monitoring site located downstream of Mungra bridge. The highest flood level was marked 1060.40 at this location in 2010. So this seems to be a huge flood after 2010. The water level has stabilised and started showing downward trend but ongoing rain could swell the river dangerously.

Katapathar, Vikas Nagar, Dehradun The river channel is full. At 15 hours on 28 July 2018 it was reported to be rising further. Local people say that the river reminds them of 2010 flood when a long patch of Khair forest on a river island was swept away like dry twigs.

Video showing flooded Yamuna river at Vyasi Hydro Power Project, Juddo, Dehrudun (Video by Parveen Tomar, Katapathar, 28 July 2018) 

The floods then had also damaged the Bausan flood monitoring site. It was later buried under the debris of Vyasi Hydro Power Construction. The CWC seems to have not rebuilt the flood monitoring site. The normal life has been affected and people are staying indoors fearing landslide or other flood disaster. The Ponta level monitoring site is rising constantly and has touched 382.500 metres mark at 17 hours on 28 July 2018.

1 Paonta 28 July 2018 17 hrs
CWC Hydrograph for Yamuna River water level at Poanta, Himachal Pradesh 28 July 2018 

Kanalsi – Yamuna Nagar 1.81 lakh cusecs water was released in River Yamuna on 26 July 2018 at 19:00 hours. Since then on an average 1 lakh cusec plus water is flowing in the river. As per villagers the river started eroding banks downstream Kanalsi village in Yamuna Nagar, Haryana. The villages located close to river banks have been alerted about rising water level.

17 Yamuna River Kanalsi Yamuna Nagar 28 July 2018
(Kiran Pal Rana, Yamuna Sewa Samiti Kanalsi showing flood spread at Yamuna Somb Confluence in Yamuna Nagar on 28 July 2018)

The rain has stopped there, but given the water level and discharge rise at Poanta and Hathini Kund Barrage, Yamuna Nagar, there would be more and bigger discharges in the river which may cause bank erosion and threat to embankments in Karnal and Paipat. The water level is rising at Kalanaur (UP), Karnal (Haryana) and Mawi (UP) level forecasting site.

3 HKB 28 July 2018 17 hours
Hathini Kund Barrage Hydrograph by CWC, 28 July 2018 
4 Karnal 28 July 2018
Karnal site Hydrograph date 28 July 2018 shows slightly falling trend, where as the hydrographs (shown below) for Kalanaur, Saharanpur & Mawi Muzaffarnagar located up and downstream Karnal show rising trend. Either the water may be spreading in floodplains at Karnal or there may be embankment breach incident for which there is no information available so far. 

(Hydrographs for Kalanaur and Mawi sites show rising trend on 28 July 2018) 

Delhi The flood level in Delhi is on constant rise. There are three flood monitoring site in Delhi which are Palla, Jhangola and Old Railway bridge. The river has already crossed warning and danger level.

8 Palla Delhi 18 hrs 28 July 2018
Rising trend at Palla, the entry point of river in Delhi, 28 July 2018

The present water level at Palla is at 210.3 metres. It is rising up and will cross the warning level of 210.6 metres and may touch the danger level of 211.8 metres. Flood water has started spreading in floodplains. The floodplain farmers have been put on alert. If it rains more, Delhi may well see a bigger flood spell.

7 ORB Dehi 28 July 2018 18 hrs
Yamuna river has crossed warning and danger level and still rising. It could be rising up all through 29 July 2018.

About CWC Flood forecasting and level monitoring sites.

List flood forecasting and level monitoring sites in Yamuna Basin

List Flood Forecasting Sites

SN River Site District/ State WL DL HFL (M) HFL Date
1 Yamuna Paonta Sirmaur, HP 383.5 M 384.5 M 384.6 M 05-09-1995
2 Yamuna Karnal Karnal, Haryana 248.8 M 249.5 M 250.07 M 17-06-2013
3 Yamuna Mawi Muzzafar Nagar, UP 230.0 M 230.85 M 232.75 M 18-06-2013
4 Sahibi Dhansa South West, Delhi 211.44 M 212.44 M 213.58 M 06-08-1977
5 Yamuna Delhi Railway Bridge North, Delhi 204.0 M 204.83 M 207.49 M 06-09-1978
6 Yamuna Mathura (Prayag Ghat) Mathura 165.2 M 166.0 M 169.73 M 08-09-1978
7 Yamuna Agra (J.B.) Agra, UP 151.4 M 152.4 M 154.76 M 09-09-1978
8 Betwa MOHANA Jalaun, UP 121.66 M 122.66 M 133.35 M 11-09-1983
9 Yamuna Etawah Etawah, UP 120.92 M 121.92 M 126.13 M 11-09-1978
10 Yamuna Auraiya Auraiya, UP 112.0 M 113.0 M 118.19 M 25-08-1996
11 Yamuna KALPI Jalaun, UP 107.0 M 108.0 M 112.98 M 25-08-1996
12 Yamuna SHAHIJINA Hamirpur, UP 103.54 M 104.54 M 108.67 M NA
13 Ken BANDA Banda, UP 103.0 M 104.0 M 113.29 M 07-07-2005
14 Yamuna HAMIRPUR Hamirpur, UP 102.63 M 103.63 M 108.59 M 12-09-1983
15 Yamuna CHILLAGHAT Banda, UP 99.0 M 100.0 M 105.16 M 06-09-1978
16 Yamuna NAINI Allahabad, UP 83.74 M 84.73 M 87.99 M 08-09-1978

 List of Level Monitoring Sites

SN River Site District State HFL (M) HFL Date
1 Yamuna Hanuman Chetty Chamba Himachal Pradesh* NA NA
2 Yamuna Naugaon Uttarkashi Uttrakhand 1060.4 m 11-09-2010
3 Pabar Tuini (Pabar) Dehradun Uttrakhand 931.88 M 25-09-1988
4 Tons Tuini (Tons) Dehradun Uttrakhand 904.0 M 24-09-1988
5 Tons South Haripur Dehradun Uttrakhand 482.48 M 25-09-1988
6 Yamuna Kalanaur Saharanpur UP 268.66 M 08-09-2010
7 Yamuna Masani Rewari Haryana 242.58 M NA
8 Hindon Galeta Baghpat UP 217.72 M 04-09-1978
9 Yamuna Baghpat Baghpat UP 217.18 M 27-08-1988
10 Sahibi Dadri Jhajjar Haryana 214.98 M 26-08-2008
11 Yamuna Palla North West Delhi 213.275 1988
12 Betwa NAUTGHAT Jhansi UP 207.99 M 01-09-1983
13 Yamuna Mohna Faridabad Haryana 193.13 M 06-09-1978
14 Yamuna Mathura (Gokul Barrage) Mathura UP 166.17 26-09-2010
15 Chambal UDI Etawah UP 128.4 M 24-08-1996
16 Yamuna RAJAPUR Chitrakoot UP 96.37 M 07-09-1978
17 Yamuna PRATAPPUR Allahabad UP 90.1 M 08-09-1978
18 Betwa Matatila Lalitpur UP NA NA

List of Inflow Monitoring sites

SN River Sites District State FRL MWL
1 Yamuna Hathinikund Barrage Yamuna Nagar, Haryana NA NA
2 Yamuna Tajewala Weir (Hathinikund) Yamuna Nagar, Haryana NA NA

Overall there are 36 flood forecasting, level monitoring and inflow monitoring stations comprising of 16 Flood forecasting, 18 Level monitoring and 2 Inflow monitoring station on River Yamuna and its tributaries in Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh states.

22 Yamuna river Palla Delhi 27 July 2018
Conventional level gauge and newly installed computerised gauge reading system at Shank no. 4 Palla, Delhi. There are 3 computerised gauge reading installed in Delhi but they are not working and staff has to rely on conventional system (Image by Bhim, 26 July 2018) 

Serious lacunae in CWC flood forecasting in Yamuna basin As we see, there are several problems with the CWC flood monitoring system[i]. A few are mentioned here.

  1. The Hanuman Chuttey site is in Uttarkashi, Uttrakhand but CWC website shows this in Himachal Pradesh. It is the first level monitoring site on River Yamuna close to its origin downstream the confluence of Hanuman Ganga. But the site is inactive, hence there is no information about river water levels from this site.
  2. The Bausan site at Katapathar, Dehradun has been damaged in 2010 and currently is non-functional and buried under the debris of Vyasi Hydro Power Project. Hence there is no forecasting or monitoring station when river Yamuna enters the plains from mountain area.
  3. The sites shown with red colour are lying inactive. These sites should have been active or removed from CWC flood forecasting list.
  4. The sites in the table with green colour has no information about high flood levels and date but the hydrograph for these site is active. CWC should provide complete information about these site.
  5. Similarly the Full Reservoir levels and Maximum Water Level is not mentioned for the two inflow monitoring sites.
  6. The Tajewala Weir is completely destroyed by 2010 floods but it is still shown on the website, though without any information. The location of the site is also wrongly shown far away from its location on Yamuna river, in Yamuna Nagar to South Haryana, along Sahibi river.
HKB sites shown wrongly on CWC map
There are two sites with the name of Hithini Kund both, CWC website shows wrong position of Hathini Kund Tajewala site. 

The coming floods will further test the Delhi govt, CWC and the disaster management systems and of course the people all along Yamuna as the flood travels further downstream of Delhi.

Delhi R Bridge 10 280718 2100
CWC Hydrograph forecasts Yamuna River flood water level rising upto 206.65 metres on 31 July 2018. 

Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP (bhim.sandrp@gmail.com)


[i] http://www.india-water.gov.in/ffs/current-flood-forecast/

Post Script:-

As latest CWC hydrograph Yamuna river level has reached 205.50 metres and about 1500 people have been evacuated from floodplains in Delhi.  https://www.news18.com/news/india/as-yamuna-flows-above-danger-mark-1500-delhiites-evacuated-from-low-lying-areas-1826995.html ( 29 July 2018)

Yamuna,Hathnikund barrage,Delhi
A view of Yamuna river, in New Delhi on 28 July 2018. (PTI Photo)

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