Causes of Flooding in Delhi: Haryana’s Role, Encroachment, Siltation, and More


Delhi, the capital city of India, is grappling with severe flooding despite the absence of recent rainfall. The flooding has been primarily attributed to an unprecedented surge in the Yamuna River, causing widespread damage and disruption. This article aims to shed light on the factors responsible for this unexpected flooding and the role played by neighboring states, encroachment, siltation, and heavy precipitation.

delhi flood yamuna

Haryana’s Role and Excess Water Release:

One of the key contributors to the flooding in Delhi is the neighboring state of Haryana. It is being blamed for releasing excess water into the Yamuna River, which further escalated the flood situation. The release of this surplus water from Haryana, combined with other factors, intensified the flooding crisis in Delhi.

Encroachment and Siltation: The Central Water Commission (CWC) officials have identified encroachment and siltation as major reasons for the flooding. The Yamuna River passes through a constricted cross-section, where encroachments and sediment build-up restrict the flow of water. This restricted space impedes the river’s ability to handle high water volumes, exacerbating the flooding in Delhi.

Heavy Rainfall in Upper Catchment Areas: Historically, heavy rainfall in the upper catchment areas of the Yamuna River has been a primary cause of its spate. Previous reports have associated flooding in Delhi with substantial precipitation in these regions. However, in the current scenario, the flooding occurred despite no recent rainfall in the city, suggesting that other factors played a significant role.

Unusually Fast Water Propagation: Ordinarily, it takes two to three days for water released from Haryana’s Hathnikund barrage to reach Delhi. However, during this flooding episode, the water arrived at a much faster rate, catching authorities off guard. The accelerated propagation of water contributed to the unprecedented rise in the Yamuna River’s level and intensified the flooding situation in Delhi.

Impact of Saturated Soil: The heavy precipitation in the region resulted in saturated soil, preventing further infiltration or surface water from soaking into the ground. As a consequence, a large volume of water remained on the surface, unable to permeate into the soil. This inability to absorb excess water contributed to the surge in water levels and exacerbated the flooding in Delhi.

Accumulation of Silt and Riverbed Elevation: The presence of over 20 bridges obstructing the flow of the Yamuna River has led to the accumulation of silt, further narrowing the river’s width. This accumulation of silt, combined with other factors, has elevated the riverbed. As a result, the river’s capacity to handle increased water flow has been significantly compromised, leading to heightened flood risks during times of spate.

Impact of Heavy Rainfall in Haryana’s Hathnikund Barrage: The Hathnikund barrage, situated near the Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh border, experienced heavy rainfall, similar to the areas facing devastating floods. This increased rainfall in the catchment areas of the barrage contributed to the overall surge in water levels downstream, affecting the Yamuna River’s flow and exacerbating the flooding in Delhi.

The recent flooding in Delhi, despite the absence of recent rainfall, can be attributed to a combination of factors. The release of excess water from Haryana, encroachments, siltation, heavy precipitation, and the accumulation of silt due to bridges have all played a role in the unprecedented spate of the Yamuna River. Understanding these factors is crucial for implementing effective flood management strategies and mitigating the impact of such events in the future.

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