At least 50 people have been killed and scores are missing after a Himalayan glacier smashed into a dam around 10 AM on Sunday and triggered a huge flood in in the northern state of Uttarakhand. The Nanda Devi glacier crashed at Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district and it triggered massive flooding of the Alaknanda and Dhauli Ganga rivers on Sunday. Personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Indian Navy, Indo-Tibetian Border Police (ITBP), Indian Army and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have been deployed in the affected region for search and rescue.
The ITBP has managed to rescue twelve people trapped in an under-construction tunnel and are working on rescuing about thirty others trapped in a second tunnel. The second tunnel is about 2.5 km long.
The 13.2 MW RishiGanga Power Project has been washed away and another National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) project is also affected. About 170 personnel from both the power projects are presumed dead. In 2019, the residents of Reni Village, instrumental in the Chipko Movement, had approached the Uttarakhand High Court with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to take action against privately owned Rishi Ganga Power Project for constructing the dam in a flood prone area. The HC had slapped notice to the Modi Government and the Bharitya Janta Party (BJP) led government in the state.
Two dams have been emptied to stop the flow of flood waters from reaching the holy cities of Rishikesh and Haridwar. People have been barred from going near the Ganga river banks.
Massive flash floods and landslides had hit Uttarakhand’s Kedarnath in June 2013 after a multi-day cloudburst. It had resulted in the death of over 5,700 people. It has been one of India’s worst natural disasters since the 2004 tsunami. The floods also damaged parts of the famous Kedarnath temple, which is located 3,581 meters above sea level.