Uttarakhand Glacier Burst Disaster: Death toll Rises To 67, Two Hydel Projects Devastated

Rescue work continues at damaged Tapovan barrage (PTI)

Chamoli district suffers a havoc triggered by a glacier burst and flash floods  Key Highlights 

  • Glacier burst leading to flash flood in the rivers Dhauliganga and Alaknanda
  • Several lives lost and people missing
  • Two hydel projects damaged
  • One BRO bridge on Joshimath and two Jhulla bridges washed away
  • Rescue operation by SDRF, ITBF and NDRF continues
  • Compensation of Rs. 4lakh offered to families of recovered dead bodies by Uttarakhand CM

Chamoli, Feb 20: A glacier burst in the Tapovan region on February 7 and led to a flash flood in the rivers Dhauliganga and Alaknanda. This led to large-scale devastation in the region.

(Infographic from Kamran Akhter/The Quint)

According to ANI, as of Sunday morning, 67 bodies has been recovered, Ashok Kumar Director General of Police said. On Thursday, the police had informed that 34 bodies and one body part have been identified. the identification process was ongoing with the collection of DNA samples of 56 family members and 49 bodies.

  The resultant damage  Along with the dead bodies, the PTI reported that 28 human limbs have also been recovered from different parts of the affected area. The accident also led to the devastation of the 13.2-mw hydel project on the Rishi Ganga river and National Thermal Power Corporation’s 520-mw Dhauliganga hydel project. A large number of their workers were trapped in tunnels as water gushed in. And several villagers have been declared as missing.  The search and rescue operation has been carried out by State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).  The State Department Response Force had said that 12 of its teams are engaged in the rescue operation for missing people from Reni village to Srinagar. Owing to the accumulation of debris and mud stocked inside the tunnel, the rescue operations will be ongoing for a long time.

The Reason  The cause of glacial burst and the events that led to the havoc are not yet certain as per scientists.  But the most talked about phenomenon is a GLOF, (glacial lake outburst flood), which refers to flooding due to a breach in a glacial lake.  Times Now quoted Mohammad Farooq Azam, Assistant Professor in IIT Indore Who said that the disaster initiated after a hanging glacier beside Ronti glacier fell down along with a lot of debris.   “Our understanding of the disaster is increasing every hour. Right now, what we understand is that it was triggered by a hanging glacier,” he said.  He explained that the ice-cum-rock avalanche and the debris fell almost vertically downward towards the bottom of the valley.  Talking about the impact of construction work in the region he said, “At present we don’t have any detailed data that can link this present disaster with ongoing constructions. But, generally, when we are blasting in the mountains, that area is prone to have more landslides or more rock falls. We also understand that the Himalayan ecosystem is very fragile and any activity that is disturbing the local biodiversity or increasing pollution, it’s affecting the local flora and fauna there. If we are trying to understand in this particular case, it is very difficult to say.”

     (Credits: Amrin Naaz)

The occurrence According to a report by The Indian Express , “At around 10:45 hours flash flood occurred in river Rishiganga due to falling of glacier in the river which exponentially increased the volume of water. Due to this the Rishiganga hydro project near Raini village was completely devastated. The BRO bridge on Joshimath-Malaria highway was also completely washed away. There were six graziers with their livestock and they were also taken away by flashflood. Rishiganga meets Dhauliganga near Raini. So Dhauli Ganga also got flooded. Five-six houses of the village were also washed away. There was an NTPC project on river Dhauliganga near Tapovan. The entire project was completely devastated. Two Jhulla bridges connecting villages on the other side of river also washed away,” an ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) official said explaining the accident.   Here’s a footage of what happened during the disaster:   The rescue and relief work has been ongoing. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat visited the spot. He also declared a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to families of those whose bodies have been recovered. Several political leaders took to Twitter to express their sorrows for the lives lost.  Also read:

(By Amrin Naaz)