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Refinery may be forced to curtail water supply

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Dec 17 - Struggling with the sudden and unprecedentedly receding water levels of the Brahmaputra since October this year, the Guwahati Refinery is contemplating curtailing water supply to non-refinery recipients, including the residents of Noonmati area living outside the township.

While the sudden drop in water level to such an extent defies logical explanation, it is alarming not just for the refinery, but for the entire State, that largely depends on the river. Experts have also been voicing concern over growing Chinese intervention in the Brahmaputra (Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet), which they warn, could lead to a serious depletion of the river�s water discharge.

Heavy silting and large sandbars emerging at the water intake site of the refinery have left four out of its eight water pumps defunct. The refinery authorities say this phenomenon is the most critical condition in the history of the installation. If it persists, it might lead to a shutdown of the refinery operations during winter.

Addressing mediapersons, who were taken to the water intake point today, executive director of the refinery Jogen Borpujari said that the refinery is already facing a shortage of 300 cubic metres (CUM) of water per hour.

Water availability has reduced from 1,300 CUM per hour to 1,000 CUM per hour. The two barges installed near Soonsali ghat were seen struggling with dry sandbars. Of this, only 500 CUM water is used in the refinery and its township and the rest is distributed to non-refinery recipients.

The shortage has led to rationing of water supply in the refinery�s township and also to Military Engineering Service (MES) and Oil India Limited (OIL), which are the recipients of water supply from refinery other than the community projects surrounding the refinery, outside its township.

�Guwahati Refinery requires continuous supply of water, which comes from the Brahmaputra. Logically, we could not explain this never-before phenomenon. Especially, the situation has worsened over the past 25-30 days. The water intake point has been completely cut off from the main river and only a small channel remains, which is supplying the backflow of Brahmaputra�s water from Kharghuli side,� Borpujari added.

Even to keep the channel alive, extensive dredging is being carried out throughout the day. Refinery authorities also added that till last year, no dredger was used for more than two days in the dry spell.

�As part of remedial measures, we have taken up this issue with the State water resource department as well as the Inland Waterways Authority of India for accurate prediction of water level in the future and for dealing with the present crisis,� he added.

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