Nearly 100 people are feared dead after a Himalayan glacier erupted in northern India and a rapid flooding under the river, causing one dam to overflow and another to be damaged.
A comprehensive relief mission has begun the recovery of several bodies after water, mud and rocks were washed away in an avalanche in the Chamoli district of the Himalayan state of Atali Khand.
As of Sunday night, seven bodies had been found, but 125 were missing.
According to the National Crisis Management Committee of India (NCMC), the floods along the Himalayan River Valley caused a mountain glacier to partially break into the Rishi Ganga River and the water level rose dramatically. ۔
While some have said the incident reflects the growing effects of the climate crisis – a 2019 survey found that Himalayan glaciers are melting “dangerously” – local activists and writers in Uttarakhand said. The river and the dam and the building adjacent to the hydroelectric mountains have also been blamed. Infrastructure, which he says is destabilizing the environmentally fragile Himalayan region, has resulted in more extreme weather events.
In the state of Uttarakhand alone, there are 550 dams and hydropower projects, including 152 major dam projects, and in the flood-affected area on Sunday, there are 58 projects along rivers and their tributaries. A new road is also being built in the mountains to facilitate tourists’ access to Uttarakhand’s famous Kedarnath Temple, which is reported to have blown up rocks and dumped mud and debris into the water.
Hardish Joshi, author of The River Rage, on a similar flood in Atwarkhand, Uttarakhand in 2013, which claimed nearly 6,000 lives, said experts and activists had already questioned the dam and road plans. have been.
“There are 10,000 large and small glaciers in the Himalayan region, so we have to be very careful about building any development project in this ecologically sensitive region, especially since climate change is affecting it and It also makes it fragile. “
“But instead the government wants to use hydropower for revenue and approves all the dam projects on every river, which we then see in violation of environmental laws. We cannot say that these projects Has been fully blamed for this latest catastrophe, but it is certainly a major factor.
According to footage and witness statements, a strong water storm swept under the river on Sunday morning, and it was rapidly accumulating as it passed through a narrow gorge, and it began to move privately on the river. The small Rishi Ganga hydroelectric dam was also completely destroyed. Envelopes to buildings, trees and people around.
As it flooded the Dholi Ganga, it affected a large 500-megawatt hydroelectric power plant, which is currently under construction by the government’s National Thermal Power Corporation.
The water continued to rise for about 15 minutes. After that, the army was deployed to assist in the relief work. Most of the missing are still building or working on two dams as a result of the rising water, as well as local herdsmen grazing sheep and goats.
In a dramatic rescue, 16 workers were pulled alive from a tunnel under one of the flood-affected dams, buried in mud and debris.
Hundreds of villages were evacuated due to fears of flooding, but officials later said there was no danger.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he was closely monitoring the situation. “India stands with Uttarakhand and the nation is praying for the safety of all there,” he said. Tweet After talking to the Chief Minister
Dwarika Dobhal, a geologist at the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, offered a different view to authorities about the cause of the flood, saying she believed it was an avalanche, not a broken glacier. The cause of the flood. He said it was “more likely” that debris had blocked the river in recent weeks, causing a lake to form and the water to slowly evaporate. An avalanche then “broke the lake and swept away the valley.”
“Climate change will make these events more common,” Dobhal said.
For the local community in Uttarakhand, the floods brought back painful memories of the Kedarnath eruption of 2013, when a multi-day cloudburst caused landslides and floods along dozens of rivers, killing at least 6,000 people. Sitting After Kedarnath, the Supreme Court withheld approval of every dam project in the state, and an expert committee later concluded that large dams had played a role in fueling the devastation.
Vimal Bhai, a local activist for the environmental NGO Matoo Jansgathan, has been working on Uttarakhand’s rivers for 33 years and was part of the fight to stop the new dam building in the state after the Kedarnath disaster in 2013.
“We have been saying for years how these big infrastructure projects are making the area more fragile and dangerous, but no one listened to us,” Bhai said. “It simply came to our notice then. Why won’t the government learn from the past?
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