Amid ongoing farmers’ protest in India, Sunday witnessed a tragic incident for the State of Uttarakhand after a part of a glacier burst in the Chamoli district. The glacier bursting triggered an avalanche and a deluge in Alaknanda River which resulted in washing away of hydropower project stations and five bridges which connected the roads with 13 villages of the district. The avalanche washed away NPTC Hydropower Plant and Rishi Ganga hydro project. At the time of writing this article, 14 people have been killed and over 150 people are reportedly missing most of who are believed to be the workers of the two hydropower projects. Government of India and Uttarakhand responded quickly and started the rescue operation with the help of NDRF and SDRF teams. Six columns of Army and seven diving teams of the Navy have been sent for the rescue operations. According to the latest media reports, 12 people have been successfully rescued by Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) team.
The Glacier burst happened all of a sudden without any sign of hostile rainy weather whatsoever
The horrific flood situation reminded of the Uttarakhand flood tragedy in 2013 which claimed the lives of over 6,000 people. However the tragedy in that year was due to heavy monsoon but this time around the glacier burst happened all of a sudden. There was no sign of rainfall in the Chamoli district, the weather reports showed sunny weather till Sunday. This sudden incident has left the experts wondering about the reason for this glacier burst. Environmental experts are citing this as a “very rare incident” as satellite and Google Earth images did not show a glacier lake near the region. Though the exact reason for this incident needs further analysis, experts are signalling about the possible existence of water pockets (lakes inside the glaciers) which might have burst thus triggering the avalanche in the region.
Global Warming has affected the temperature of the Himalayan region
Farooq Azam, Assistant Professor of Glaciology and hydrology, IIT Indore is of the opinion that there is a possibility of a water pocket in the region which might have erupted however further analysis is needed to confirm the same however he is not ruling out the possibility of a snow avalanche induced landslide. He also stated that global warming has indeed resulted in the warming of the region. A recent assessment report showed that temperatures has been rising gradually in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region which will have more impact in the region as the warming is dependent on elevation of the region. The government should spend more resources in monitoring these regions so that such devastation could be avoided or at least lessen the extent of destruction.