“Evacuate immediately:” Delhi CM urges people in low-lying area

Yamuna level in Delhi has risen to 207.89 metres, breaking 45-year-old record, due to the floods in Himachal Pradesh

New Delhi: With the Yamuna in Delhi swelling to 207.89 metres on Wednesday, breaching the earlier record of 207.49 metres set in 1978, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged those living in low-lying areas to vacate their houses and move to safer places, while cautioning people against clicking selfies at the riverside.

Addressing a press conference after holding an emergency meeting on the rising water level of the river, Kejriwal said the district magistrates have been directed to convert schools into relief camps, if need be.

Noting that the Yamuna has surpassed a 45-year-old record, he said the river has swelled to such a level because of the water coming from Himachal Pradesh.

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“According to the information from the Central Water Commission, the level was to reach 207.72 metres between 10 and 11 pm but unfortunately, we have already reached that level. In the last two days, it has not rained much in Delhi, so most of this water is coming from behind — from Himachal Pradesh via Haryana. The Hathnikund barrage is in Haryana and on the opening of this barrage, the water enters Delhi,” the chief minister said.

Kejriwal had written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, requesting him that if possible, the amount of water entering the Yamuna in Delhi be reduced.

“I also spoke to Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. He informed me that at Hathnikund, there is only a barrage and no reservoir, so there is no provision to stop the flow of water.

“But he also informed me that the amount of water being released in Himachal Pradesh has decreased slightly and the effect of this will be felt in Delhi a little later. A lot of water was released from there on Tuesday and the effect will only be felt in Delhi after 24 hours. For the time being, we are expecting the water level in the river to rise further,” he said.

Kejriwal said the Delhi government’s priority at the moment is to evacuate those living in the low-lying areas near the river.

“Our attempt right now is to make sure that we do everything possible to protect the lives of those residing in the low-lying areas near the river and their properties. I would like to appeal to those living in these areas not to delay the process and leave their houses at the earliest. It is possible that the water level may suddenly rise and they may not have the time later to vacate their houses,” he added.

The chief minister listed out the affected areas.

“The areas already affected by the flood are Boat Club, the Monastery market, the Neeli Chhatri temple near the Old Railway Bridge, Yamuna Bazaar, Geeta Ghat, Vishwakarma Khadda Colony, Garhi Mandu, the stretch between Majnu ka Tila and Wazirabad.

“Those living in the low-lying areas in Usmanpur, Badarpur Khadar, DND, Pushta, Mayur Vihar, the main Yamuna Road in Jagatpur, Bhelopur Shamshan Ghat at Sarai Kale Khan, Jain Mandir, Gyaspur and the slums around the Millennium depot also need to start leaving their houses,” he said.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader requested those visiting the low-lying areas to click selfies to avoid such misadventure.

“We are also seeing that people are going to these low-lying areas to click photos and selfies. I would urge them not to do this as the water level can rise suddenly,” he said.

The city government has taken several steps to provide relief to the citizens, Kejriwal said, adding that those living in these areas have the option of either taking the help of government agencies for their evacuation or doing it on their own and shift to a relative’s house elsewhere.

“We have set up several relief camps and are in the process of setting up more if need be. I just held a meeting with the district magistrates of several areas and urged them to even close down schools in the low-lying areas temporarily and use those spaces to set up relief camps,” he said.

The chief minister thanked those assisting in the relief work and said it is time for the people of Delhi to come together.

“Several NGOs are assisting us at the moment and we would like to thank them for their efforts. Gurdwaras have also set up langar and are feeding those affected. We would like to thank them as well. This is an opportunity to help each other and we request everyone else who can come forward and assist in any way to do that and help the government,” he said.

Revenue Minister Atishi said the Delhi government has arranged 50 boats to provide immediate relief to people in the flood-affected areas. The boats have been deployed at a distance of two kilometres each on the stretch of the river from Palla to the Okhla barrage, she added.

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