A glacial lake was formed in 2004 after a landslide in the Tibetan Himalayas on the banks of the Pareechu, causing water to build up into an artificial lake spread over 200 hectares and 60 metres deep. The lake burst on June 26, 2005.(PTI file photo)
A glacial lake was formed in 2004 after a landslide in the Tibetan Himalayas on the banks of the Pareechu, causing water to build up into an artificial lake spread over 200 hectares and 60 metres deep. The lake burst on June 26, 2005.(PTI file photo)

Rising water level in Pareechu river from China puts Himachal Pradesh on alert

Accelerated glacial melting leading to rise in water level of river that originates in India, meanders through the mountainous terrain of China-occupied Tibet before merging into the Sutlej in Lahaul-Spiti district of HP
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Gaurav Bisht
PUBLISHED ON AUG 19, 2020 06:30 AM IST

Shimla: The rising water level in the Pareechu river, which meanders through the mountains of China-occupied Tibetan Autonomous Region before entering India, has the Himachal Pradesh government on alert.

Pareechu is a tributary of the Spiti river that merges with the Sutlej at Khab, a village in tribal Kinnaur district of the hill state.

“Water in the river has been rising consistently due to clear weather in the mountains which has accelerated glacial melting. We are keeping a close watch but there is no immediate threat. We have apprised the state government,” says Somesh Kumar, the executive engineer of the Central Water Commission.

The flow of the Pareechu is recorded at a station at Zada in China, while the Central Water Commission has set up two stations at Chumar near Leh and Sumdoh in Lahaul and Spiti, where the Sutlej confluences with the main tributary of the Spiti river. Water flow is also monitored at Khab, where a dam is built on the Sutlej to generate 1,500 megawatt electricity for the Nathpa-Jhakri project.

The Pareechu originates in India, meanders through the mountainous terrain in China-occupied Tibet and then merges into the Sutlej near Samdoh in Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.

LAKE CREATED HAVOC IN 2004

A glacial lake was formed in 2004 after a landslide in the Tibetan Himalayas on the banks of the Pareechu, causing water to build up into an artificial lake spread over 200 hectares and 60 metres deep.

The lake formed behind the landslide dam burst on June 26, 2005.

Gushing waters washed away the strategic Hindustan-Tibet road and National Highway-22 at a number of places. It swept away 10 bridges and 11 ropeways. Fifteen bridges and eight roads and footbridges were damaged on the 10-km stretch of NH-22 between Wangtoo in Kinnaur and Samdoh in Lahaul-Spiti.

No loss of life was reported as the army and civil authorities had evacuated 5,000 people along the Sutlej, anticipating the breach of the lake. The flooding had caused a loss of Rs 800 crore.

After the 2005 flooding, India and China signed a protocol for sharing information on the water level from the Pareechu. The lakes in the catchment area of the Pareechu are regularly monitored by the Himachal government’s State Centre in Climate Change (SCCC) by using satellite data. Last month, scientists had detected two landslides using satellite imagery but ruled out the possibility of flooding at that time.

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