The Himalayan state of Uttarakhand faced yet another horrific disaster on the morning of  Sunday 7th February. A chunk of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Chamoli District’s Joshimath area triggering flooding of the Dhauli Ganga, Rishi Ganga, and Alaknanda Rivers. This incident has proved to be a grim reminder of the 2013 Uttarakhand flooding that claimed thousands of lives. 

What is a glacier lake outburst flood (GLOF)?

A glacier outburst is a natural phenomena where a glacier keeping water or terminal moraine restricted, fails and lets out a large quantity of its contents. This can be caused by an increase in the water pressure, an avalanche (both rock and snow), erosion or even an earthquake. A glacier lake outburst flood is a type of megaflood that is known to be catastrophic but has a low frequency of occurrence.  

The damage caused by the flooding does not only include casualties, but also an entire Tapovan hydroelectric power dam being washed away. The gushing water showed no mercy to this massive structure that is situated in the confluence of the rivers Dhauli Ganga and Rishi Ganga. This dam which is also called the Rishi Ganga Project had started its electricity production service in 2020. The Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat while addressing the press about this incident said that the families of the deceased shall be receiving Rs.4 lakhs as compensation. 

As per the information received, there were over 150 people working in the Rishi Ganga Project site. So far 10 bodies have been recovered and a rescue operation has been started in full swing. Teams from the SDRF – State Disaster Response force, NDRF – National Disaster Response Force and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Uttarakhand Police are woking together relentlessly to rescue those still stuck in the area. 

To manage this situation 400 army personnel have also been deployed from Joshimath and Auli. A medical team and the Engineering Task Force of the army are also present at the location. A control room has also been set up at Joshimath to facilitate the entire rescue mission

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