Floodwater barely 350 metres from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence painted a stark image of the crisis in India’s capital on Thursday afternoon as a result of the Yamuna River swelling to record-breaking levels. The flood has severely impacted the national capital, causing major disruption to normal life and traffic movement, and has triggered an emergency response from government officials.
The flood crisis, reaching a level unseen in 45 years, has also led to the imposition of flood barriers in the Civil Lines residential area, where Mr Kejriwal and other top government officials reside, in a bid to stem the surging river water.
On Thursday, the floodwaters reached several key areas in Delhi, including the Secretariat housing the chief minister’s office. This has led to the closure of schools, colleges, and universities, as well as the shutdown of all non-essential government offices in the city until Sunday.
As the water level touched a record 208.53 meters at 10 am, surpassing a 45-year-old record, the city scrambled to coordinate rescue and relief efforts. The Central Water Commission has termed the situation as “extreme” and anticipates the water level to rise even further.
Mr Kejriwal, in an effort to ensure the safety of the public, has also advised private offices to adopt work-from-home arrangements until Sunday.
Amid these escalating challenges, Delhi is facing a drinking water shortage as three treatment plants have been flooded. The Chief Minister addressed the issue on Twitter, stating that efforts will be made to restore the plants as soon as Yamuna water recedes.
With floodwaters entering the city, areas such as the Boat Club, Pandav Nagar, Gandhi Nagar, and Bhajanpura, among others, were inundated. The Delhi Secretariat, which houses the offices of Chief Minister Kejriwal, his cabinet, and other senior bureaucrats, was also affected by the flood.
Traffic movement has been severely impaired. The traffic police have issued advisories about restrictions and regulations on vehicular movement due to the rising water levels of the Yamuna River. Commercial vehicles not headed for Delhi have been told not to enter the city and are being diverted to the Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways.
Mr Kejriwal has reached out to the centre for intervention as the situation deteriorates. To maintain order, city police have banned gatherings of four or more people and public movement in groups in flood-prone areas.
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), led by Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena and Mr Kejriwal, will continue to meet to discuss and manage the flood situation in the city.