Tehri dam

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2013: How Tehri held [the] raging Ganga & saved lives

Pradeep Thakur TNN 2013/06/27

The Times of India

New Delhi: The water levels in the Tehri dam were low at the start of the monsoon in June 2013. This proved a critical factor in the dam retaining waters of an engorged Bhagirathi and preventing a 10-12 feet rise in the Ganga at Rishikesh that could have been ruinous for the town and its ashrams.

A report said the fury of nature in Uttarakhand was such that waters rose as high as a four-storeyed building at Devprayag, where the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi meet, in a 24-hour period after the June 16-17 cloudburst. The rise at Devprayag, Rishikesh and Haridwar could have been much higher but for the Tehri dam.

On the morning of June 16, the discharge of water in Bhagirathi was 18,600 cusecs at the Tehri site. By evening, it went up to 1,05,000 cusecs and next morning touched 2,44,000 cusecs. This led to a phenomenal rise in the river level at Devprayag by 11 meters. By then, the inflow from Alaknanda was already 2,45,000 cusecs.

This rise was unprecedented and could have resulted in total destruction of Rishikesh town and much of Haridwar if the flow of Bhagirathi was not contained by the Tehri reservoir, said officials of the Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC), who made the first assessment of the flash floods.

As it was the start of the monsoon and the reservoir was relatively empty, authorities retained 95% of Bhagirathi’s fury and maintained a release of only 14,000 cusecs instead of 2,44,000 cusecs and prevented a rise in water level by at least 5 meters (more than 16 feet) in Devprayag and 10-12 feet at Rishikesh, about 60 km away as the river flows.

“All ashrams along the Ganga in Rishikesh would have been washed away and Ram Jhula would have been submerged if the level had further gone up by even 3 meters,” said a director at THDC. Haridwar too would have witnessed largescale devastation.

At Devprayag, the river level was 458.25 m at 11 am on June 16. The next day around the same time, it had risen to 469.10 m. It would have been a catastrophe downstream of Devprayag, in Rishikesh and Haridwar, if instead of 14,000 cusecs, 2,44,000 cusecs was added from Bhagirathi .

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