Uttarakhand to study risk posed by 13 glacial lakes during monsoon

The study aims to provide data to help avoid calamities such as glacial lake outburst floods

Published - June 28, 2024 12:17 am IST - New Delhi

Aerial view shows washed away Tapovan hydel power project plant after glacier burst, in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand on February 12, 2021. File

Aerial view shows washed away Tapovan hydel power project plant after glacier burst, in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand on February 12, 2021. File | Photo Credit: PTI

With the monsoon season setting in, the Uttarakhand State Disaster Management Department (USDMA) is set to do a vulnerability study of the 13 glacial lakes, five of them in “high risk zone” from the coming month. The study aims to provide data to help avoid calamities such as lake outbursts.

Ranjit Sinha, Secretary, USDMA, briefed the media about the new lakes which were identified through satellite, earlier this year. Mr. Sinha maintained that the Himalayan glaciers are in danger due to climate change, and that this requires continued checks to ensure nothing untoward happens.

Of the 13 lakes, the high risk ones are in Darma, Lasaryanghati, and Kutiyangti valley in Pithoragarh district, and Vasudhara Tal lake of Dhauli Ganga basin in Chamoli district are in the high risk zone. These lakes, range between 0.02 to 0.50 sq. km, are situated at elevations above 4,000 metres above sea level.

“Our teams, which will start a bathymetry study of the five potentially high risk lakes from the first week of July. The study will give us a correct and accurate information regarding the size of the lakes, how the glaciers were formed, how they are melting, and more,” Mr. Sinha added.

Also Read | Troubled mountains: On Uttarakhand glacier disaster

Earlier this month, the USDMA has asked the Indo-Tibetan Border Police to share a report on the status of the five high risk glacial lakes.

“After accessing the risk, we will puncture the lakes and place pipes inside it,” the USDMA officer added.

The State government had, in March this year, formed two expert teams to assess the risks associated with these glacial lakes. The teams were composed of experts from the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, the Geological Survey of India, the National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, and the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology.

To mention, two major glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) took place in Uttarakhand in last decade. The first was the lake outburst in Kedarnath valley in June 2013 which led to 6,000 deaths. The most recent GLOF occurred in Chamoli’s Rishighanga valley, in February 2021, which claimed 72 lives.

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