Uttrakhand: Here’s all you need to know about the Chamoli Glacier Burst

Source-Indian Express

On the 7th of February, a portion of Nanda Devi Glacier broke off. This led to creating an avalanche (snowslide) that washed away hydroelectric power stations and swept away homes. According to the sources, it left 10 people dead, and around 125 people missing. However, as per the sources currently, the special operations team has been able to recover 62 bodies and 28 body parts and 142 are still missing.

The incident led to damage of two power projects:

  • NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad Hydel Project
  • Rishi Ganga Hydel Project

Later on, 7h February ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) were successful in rescuing 16 men safely from a tunnel near the tapovan dam. According to the sources the Uttar Pradesh govt. asked the authorities in all districts on the banks of river Ganga to be on high alert.

After hearing the news, the Ministry of Nepal and the PM of the United Kingdom expressed their concern over the incident.



The glacier burst struck in Raini village of Chamoli. As the avalanche struck it washed down the tidal parks near the Rishi Ganga River. Which led to the loss of many people’s lives and left many still missing. Below are a few highlights from the Chamoli Flash-Flood.

Created By Ashwathy Nair

According to the sources the DGP of Uttrakhand said, “I clarify that all rescue operations in Joshimath, Raini and Tapovan areas will continue, be it search, rescue, or relief operation. I have said digging out bodies from under debris should get completed in three-four days. But the ops will go on until the last person is located.”

The search and rescue operations as per the sources might continue for a really long time as a huge amount of debris and mud is stocked inside the tunnel. As the rescue operations still continue, the recent updates show that 62 bodies and 28 body parts have been recovered, while 142 are still missing (19th February).

How did it occur?

To get information on how exactly did the event occur five scientists flew over the affected area in a helicopter. According to them, a part of the glacier was wrapped around hanging on a slope, which was held by a mass of rock. Over the course of time, the part weakened because of the melting and freezing. The scientists say that it broke off on Sunday and it fell down through the steep mountain slope.

As it fell down and reached the floor valley the scientists believe that rocks, snow, and sediment fell into a narrow mountain stream at the height of 3,600 meters blocking it. This led to increasing in the water level because of which it burst. A surge of water and rubble later went further down, which created a rupture in the dam.

This led to creating a danger for everyone’s lives present around these areas.

What are the measures taken to prevent such occurrences in the future?

Due to the massive destruction, many NTPC workers lost their lives. NTPC announced Rs.20 lakh of compensation to each of the families who were affected by this grave tragedy. Apart from the compensation of the NTPC the state and Central government announced Rs.4 lakh and Rs.2 lakh of compensation respectively.

According to the sources the company said in a statement, “NTPC Ltd has fast-tracked all modalities and procedures required for compensation to the immediate families who lost their lives at the natural disaster that struck at the Tapovan project.”

A spokesperson from the company according to the sources added that “325 people including engineers, scientists, officials, and geologists of NTPC, UPNL, CISF, THDC respectively are employed at the site to speed up the rescue work.”

The Uttrakhand Police has installed new alert warning systems to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.


Could Climate Change and rise in temperature be the cause of this?

The director of the Dehradun-based Wadia Institute of Himalayan geology Dr. Kalachand Sain told the sources, “What we have here is not very common. The weakening of the glacier happened over a long period of time as the ice froze and thawed.”

He added that “climate change is the ‘main factor’ for rapid temperature changes leading to freezing, thawing of ice and glacial fractures over a period of time. Glaciers collect snow in winter and lose snow in summer But when the temperature rapidly increased they lost the ice faster than they could collect it. Ice melts led to the retreat of the glaciers.”

As per the sources Mr. Saini further went on to add that, “There are some 10,000 glaciers in the Indian Himalayas. Uttarakhand itself has up to 1,475 glaciers and many are receding due to the warming climate. If something as uncommon that happened on 7th February happens to even 10% of our glaciers the danger to life and property is immense.”

Sources: India Today|BBC|ANI

By Ashwathy Nair