“Do you see that temple?” Dharmendra Kumar asks, as he points to a half-submerged structure in the distance as rising waters of the Yamuna lap at its conical roof in north Delhi’s Yamuna Bazar.
“The water will completely submerge it by dawn tomorrow; there will be no sign of it. That’s what happened the last time the Yamuna was in spate eight years ago; just like it has been over the last few days,” says Mr. Kumar, a final year Sanskrit Honours student at Delhi University.
Flood control room
The Yamuna was flowing at 205.5 metres on Sunday evening well above the danger mark of 204.83 metres, government officials said. The water level had reached 205.30 metres on Saturday evening, prompting authorities to evacuate people from the low-lying areas.
The Delhi government has set up a flood control room and a round-the-clock emergency operation centre to monitor the river situation, according to officials as Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia took stock of the ongoing evacuation operation in the low-lying areas in east Delhi and appealed to the people to move to safer areas.
On the banks of the Yamuna here, even as makeshift embankments of large wooden blocks are being erected, two-wheelers are being maneuvered through the bylanes of a small settlement of around 200 families onto the Ring Road via narrow flights of concrete stairs. Residents hurriedly were packed essentials and valuables following the evacuation orders.
Less than a kilometre down the road, a small portion of the catchment area leading to the Old Yamuna Bridge transformed into a impromptu tourist spot with media OB vans, bikes and autorickshaws jostling for space as a steady stream of onlookers gathered to look at the expanding river.
“We came here from Rohini to see whether all the media reports about flooding were true,” said Ranu Sharma, a student. “It looks like the ocean; like we are at Marine Drive in Mumbai,” she admits.
According to the DDMA, which later ordered the closure of the Old Yamuna Bridge, the high water levels recorded at the site were 207.49 metres in 1978, 207.11 metres in 2010 and 207.32 metres in 2013.
Mohammad Meherban, whose family is among over a dozen to be shifted and accommodated in tents pitched along the Wazirabad Bridge leading up the Signature Bridge, says things are “as bad as 2010, if not worse.”
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