(Feature Image: DN 8 full of untreated effluents near GTK road on May 13, 2023. Bhim Singh Rawat)
In the past, the Storm Water Drains (SWD) used to be seasonal streams feeding Yamuna river in upper segment of Haryana. After introduction of canal based irrigation system, most of the SWDs dissected by Western Yamuna Canal (WYC) networks have been converted into flood escape channels.
In recent decades, many of these SWDs have been degraded into waste water disposal drains. The Dhanaura escape in Karnal, Drain Number (DN) 2 in Panipat and DN 6 in Sonepat districts of Haryana state are glaring example of the deliberate abuse.
On May 17, 2020 the residents of Ranwar village in Karnal woke up to find their village surrounded by gushing water current which was fast entering their homes. The cause of the flooding was a breach[i] in augmentation canal running close to the village.
The incident was allegedly caused by a small hole at 60.200 point on left bank of the canal around 03.00 am gradually turning into a 40 to 50 feet wide breach by the noon same day. Before the local administration could get into action, around 250 acres of farm lands around the village was flooded.
For past two years, large scale mechanized and illegal mining is happening in Yamuna River in Haryana state. The miners have created deep pits across the riverbed in Yamuna Nagar, Karnal, Panipat and Sonipat districts. Year 2019 has been a deficit monsoon year in Yamuna basin and the river had started shrinking unusually during October month. The rampant riverbed excavation has further robbed it of lean season flows. This detailed overview of river sand mining in Haryana in 2019 shows the severe impact of unsustainable and illegal mining practices on the river and villagers due to insensitive government and inefficient administration.
We have presented through separate articles, overview of sand mining issues of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana-Andhra Pradesh, East India and North East India, in addition to one on murders, violence, threats and infrastructure damages due to illegal sand mining. This compilation tries to throw some light on the sand mining related issue of 2018 in remaining states with the help available media reports.
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.
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.