Disaster strikes Uttarakhand, yet again

Flash Floods in Chamoli, Uttarakhand (Image Source: India.com)
Flash Floods in Chamoli, Uttarakhand (Image Source: India.com)

Uttarakhand glacier disaster: Death toll rises to 58 as rescue operation continues

On the morning of 7 February 2021, flash floods struck Uttarakhand's Chamoli district, washing away the under-construction Rishiganga hydro electric project and causing heavy damage to the 530MW Dhauliganga hydel project. So far, 58 bodies have been recovered following the disaster, 146 people are still missing while the multi-agency rescue operation is in full swing. The disaster was set off when part of a glacier broke off, triggering flash floods and a massive avalanche in the state.

As per the experts, the disaster underscores the fragility of the Himalayan mountains, and the need to enhance the capabilities of monitoring and early warning in the high mountain areas.

(Hindustan Times, The Times of India, Scroll.in)

Centre's report on 'Sedimentation of Reservoirs in India 2020' shows a grim picture

According to the Centre's report on 'Sedimentation of Reservoirs in India 2020', live storage capacity in dams across the country, particularly in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh has taken a major hit. In these states, the major reservoirs were in the list of reservoirs that have lost over 50 percent of its gross water holding capacity, dead storage and live capacity. The report further warns that several reservoirs in the country may already be choked, given the data from surveys conducted decades ago for most dams. It has been suggested in the report that the way ahead to prevent these reservoirs from dying is to work towards preventing further damage through sedimentation. (Deccan Chronicle)

Study reveals, 20 percent of the country loaded with toxic levels of arsenic in groundwater

According to a new study by IIT Kharagpur, almost 20 percent of India's total land area has toxic levels of arsenic in its groundwater, exposing over 250 million people across the country to the poisonous element. The findings which used artificial intelligence (AI)-based prediction modelling, suggest a much greater extent of the high arsenic zones and total population exposed than already known from arsenic sampling exercises and earlier reports.

The study noted that the high arsenic areas are mostly along the Indus-Ganga-Brahmaputra river basin and in pockets in Peninsular India with Punjab, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat showing the highest areal extent of elevated groundwater arsenic zones. (Outlook India)

Residents in Lahaul-Spiti up in arms against the proposed hydel projects

The Himachal Pradesh government has allocated several power projects in the Chenab basin to prominent companies and several hydropower projects are in the pipeline for Tandi, Rashil, Bardang, Miyar and Jispa in Lahaul-Spiti. Following the Chamoli mishap, the people of the region are petrified and the residents of Tandi and Goshal panchayats held a meeting to oppose the proposed projects on the Chenab banks. As these projects adversely affect the ecology of the area, the residents have passed a resolution against the proposed Tandi project and plan to hold campaigns across the district to spread awareness about the ill-effects of power projects. (The Tribune)

NEERI provides way to revive Bengaluru’s lakes

According to a report by the CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) submitted to the High Court of Karnataka, the best mitigation strategies for rejuvenation of water quality in Bengaluru’s lakes are nutrient load reduction and ecological restoration. The report further suggests that de-silting and dredging are essential to restore the water storage capacity of lakes and de-silting operations need to be assigned top priority for many lakes, especially for developing and undeveloped lakes. It was noted during the study that many undeveloped lakes are being polluted by solid, agricultural and industrial waste. (The Hindu)

This is a roundup of important news published from February 1 - 14, 2021. Also read policy matters this week.