Team to assess lake formation on Rishiganga river in Uttarakhand

Amid growing fears, the Uttarakhand government on Friday sent a team to find whether a lake has been formed in the catchment area of the Rishiganga river, which had caused a deluge on February 7.

The team comprising NDRF and SDRF personnel will trek the tough terrains to collect first hand information of the lake formation in the higher altitudes of the Himalayas. “This team will trek to see exact location of the lake, if any, and submit a report in this regard,” said DIG Nilesh Anand Bharne, who is also the spokesman of the state police.

Some satellite images of the area have also indicated the formation of the lake, top government officials said.

The government has also asked scientists of the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology here to depute a separate team to the Rishiganga valley to make a detailed report on the lake formation.

Reports pouring in from different areas of Chamoli district said the flow of Rishiganga has abruptly increased since Thursday afternoon that has also forced the authorities to suspend the search operation inside the disaster-hit tunnel of NTPC’s 520 Mw Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project. Rishiganga is a tributary of Dhauliganga river on which the Tapovan project is being built.

Since Thursday morning, villagers around Rishganga project, which was destroyed in the heavy floods, had been complaining to the district administration about the formation of the lake. “The people in our Reni village are very scared ever since they heard about this lake. We hope the administration will take necessary steps in this regard,” said Bhagwan Singh, village pradhan of Reni. “We are having sleepless nights,” said Ashish Rawat of Saldhar village which lies on the sliding zone of the Rishiganga village.

The village pradhan said some people in Reni, which was badly affected by the disaster, are so terrified that they are not going to their homes and are passing the cold winter nights in the higher areas.

Congress General Secretary Harish Rawat has also asked the government to take prompt steps on the lake formation issue.

Over 200 people went missing after the Sunday morning deluge that had hit the two hydel projects in Chamoli district.