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Rising Yamuna poses threat to Taj

By Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
September 24, 2008 18:53 IST
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The steadily rising level of Yamuna river could pose a threat to Taj Mahal at Agra in Uttar Pradesh, where the toll on account of on-going fury of rain and floods has touched 1122 on Wednesday.

The rise in the water level of the Yamuna river was attributed to release of water from two Himachal Pradesh based barrages .

"While 120,000 cusecs of water was released from Hatnikund and Tajewala barrages in Himachal about three days ago following which the river level has been steadily going up all along the course in the downstream" , state relief commissioner G K Tandon said in Lucknow on Wednesday.

He said, "the additional flow of water had already inundated certain areas in parts of Western UP from where the river was headed towards Agra, where it could even cross the danger mark by Thursday afternoon."

According to an official manning a special flood watch post near Agra, "The level of the Yamuna has been rising at a rate of about 3 inches an hour and considering that the river was just about 8 feet below the danger mark of 498 feet."

The authorities are keeping a minute to minute watch on the river level, which flows along the rear wall of the wonder 16th century monument.  "About 320,000 cusecs of water was expected to be released from the barrages over the next 24 hours. However, more than the rising water level. It was the accelerated current that could be cause of some worry," The said. 

This was the second time during the current monsoon that the river level had gone up to cause serious concern. "Since the monument has weathered many a storm over the centuries, I do not think the rise in the Yamuna level or its increasing current could cause any harm to the structure or its foundations," claimed a senior official in Lucknow.

Meanwhile, some respite from the rain over the past 24 hours has provided relief to the 2.6 million population that was affected by the current monsoon fury across the country's most populous state.

"Of the 1122 dead, 142 persons who were reported to have been washed away in the flood waters, while as many as 978 died on account of rain, thunder and lightning, with the bulk meeting their end under crumbling rustic houses across the vast rural expanse of the state ", relief commissioner Tandon said.

Last week's renewed bout of rain in large parts of the already flood ravaged state , had led the authorities to make fresh arrangements to evacuate people from marooned villages. "The total number of people shifted to relief camps has now gone up to over 48000", he added.

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Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow