Former water affairs Minister and senior BJP leader Uma Bharati on Monday said the Uttarakhand disaster- the reported breaking away of a part of a glacier at Nanda Devi- resulting in the death of over a 100 people was both a tragedy and a warning, and something she had warned about when she was minister.
In a series of tweets, Ms. Bharati said the tragedy that had happened in Rishi Ganga in the Himalayas was a matter of concern as well as a warning.
“When I was minister, my ministry in its affidavit about the dams in Uttarakhand in the Himalayas had requested that it is a very sensitive region, and, therefore, power projects should not be built on the Ganges and its main tributaries,” she said. The electricity shortfall caused by the decision to make hydel power project dams could instead have been met by the national grid.
Sunday saw tragedy unfold in Chamoli area, with a portion of the Nanda Devi glacier breaking away, causing an avalanche and flooding downriver and damaging two hydel power projects besides claiming over a 100 lives (an approximate figure). Activists had, for long, opposed these power projects, apprehending just such a disaster.
Ms. Bharti was the Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation during the first term of the Modi government.
Ms. Bharti said she was in Uttarkashi on Saturday and was now in Haridwar.
A part of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off at Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on Sunday, leading to a massive flood in the Dhauliganga river and causing large-scale devastation in the upper reaches of the ecologically fragile Himalayas.
Over 150 labourers working at a power project in Tapovan-Reni are feared dead, an Indo Tibetan Border Police spokesperson said, quoting the project-in charge. Three bodies were recovered.