New Delhi: The Yamuna river has spilled onto roads surrounding Delhi’s historic Red Fort, reclaiming its ancient flowpath as India’s capital is hit by severe flooding.
Authorities have evacuated more than 20,000 people in the city after torrential rain in northern India pushed water levels on the Yamuna to an all-time high.
Famous as the location from where prime ministers make their Independence Day speeches, the Red Fort was the showpiece of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan when he shifted his seat of power to Delhi in the 17th century.
At the time, the river would feed the fort’s defensive moats and pleasure-barges would dot its banks. Subsequent infrastructural developments have changed the course of the river, a tributary of the Ganges which originates in the Himalayas.
History buffs took to social media to highlight the force of the floods.
With heavy rainfall expected to continue in the Yamuna’s catchment area in Himachal Pradesh, water is spilling over major barriers along the river.
The northern Indian state has been particularly hard hit by flooding, with the death toll there currently at 91, according to local media.
In Delhi, schools, colleges and universities are closed through Sunday and offices are asking their staff to work from home. About 25per cent of the city’s water supply will be affected due to the closure of its three treatment plants. Railway and traffic movement on the Old Yamuna Bridge, a crucial transport link, has also been stopped as a precautionary measure.
Heavy flooding have also hit three districts in the northern part of Bangladesh as the Teesta river, one of the largest in the country, is flowing 35 centimeters above the danger level.
Meanwhile, transport was disrupted in several areas of India’s capital after water from the swollen Yamuna river that runs through New Delhi flowed in through a broken drain regulator, authorities said.
The river’s levels were at their highest in 45 years this week, following unusually heavy rainfall in New Delhi and hilly northern states, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people during the last two days, as the river breached its banks.
“To prevent water from flowing into the city, we are trying to create a dam,” said Saurabh Bharadwaj, Delhi’s flood control and irrigation minister.
Sacks would be stacked up to achieve this, he added, while authorities were renting a new regulator to be installed once the flow of water is brought under control.
The work would take four or five hours more, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal estimated after a visit to the site.
Metro train services were delayed by up to 20 minutes, commuters said.
Government officials said the regulator, located near a key metro station, was in a state of “prolonged disrepair” and collapsed at about 7 p.m. (1330 GMT) on Thursday, at a time when the river was in spate.
Authorities are also turning to national disaster response officials and the army for help in the repair work, Kejriwal had said on Twitter earlier.
The roads around the Rajghat memorial to India’s apostle of non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi, were inundated, with some water flowing into the memorial area as well.
Also flooded were several private and government offices, including the police headquarters, in the city’s ITO area.