Lake formation upstream of Rishiganga likely to drain in coming days: Geologists

Published on Feb 12, 2021 03:41 PM IST

They say that the lake will not collapse but it will gradually drain, which can be dangerous for those engaged in rescue work downstream

Lake formation upstream of Rishiganga likely to drain in coming days: Geologists
Lake formation upstream of Rishiganga likely to drain in coming days: Geologists
ByJayashree Nandi

Geologists have warned that a lake has formed upstream of Rishiganga valley which could flow out gradually, impacting rescue efforts downstream.

“There is a place where Rontighat or Ronti river meets Rishiganga. The debris that fell with the glacier breach on February 7 has blocked the Rishiganga water there, creating a lake. A geologist, Naresh Rana, went to the place to physically inspect it with the help of villagers. Satellite images have also confirmed lake formation. The water will definitely spill as the lake is full now. We have been informed that authorities are trying to drain the water so that rescue work can resume after that,” said Navin Juyal, retired geologist from the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.

“The lake will not collapse but it will gradually drain, which can be dangerous for those engaged in rescue work,” Juyal added.

“Day before yesterday, when we found out about the lake formation, we had informed the sub divisional magistrate, divisional magistrate and vice chancellor of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University, where I am working. We were hoping that the Indo-Tibetan Border Police or other rescue agencies can give it way manually so that the water and debris come down gradually because if it topples, it can be very dangerous. The good thing is water has started draining from the dam. But the fear of toppling exists. The agencies have been informed,” said geologist and professor YP Sundriyal.

Juyal explained that some boulders in the higher reaches are as big as a house. “It is understood from various satellite images and aerial surveys that rocks and boulders from Nanda Ghunti or Trishul, the two peaks here, have fallen on the glacier. There was no lake on the surface of the glacier but there may have been subsurface water bodies. The glacier surface along with ice, water, debris, fell on February 7. Because of the remoteness of the region, studying it manually is very difficult.”

The India Meteorological Department , meanwhile, warned that a fresh feeble Western Disturbance is likely to impact the Western Himalayas from February 14 to 16. There is likely to be light rainfall (up to 1 cm) and snowfall (up to 10 cm) in the northern parts of Uttarakhand, including Chamoli district, during that period.

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