The whole of Uttarakhand felt short of answers when nature threw its dice. The morning of 7th February went horrible for the people in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. A portion of Nanda Devi peak broke off to Joshimath and caused a rise in the water level of the Dhauliganga river. The Chamoli flood compromised many lives on the bank of the river. Currently, 38 dead bodies are recovered. Over 150 people are missing, and rescue operations are underway.
The flood devastated the two hydel projects – Rishiganga and Tapovan-Vishnugad projects.
CHAMOLI FLOOD: GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE
As soon as the event unfolded, the local authority came into action. Emergency numbers were circulated all around the district, and mainstream media reached out for the exposure.
Two NDRF teams have come to the rescue. More than 400 ITBP personnel are in Tapovan, and the Indian Air Force has taken its flight. The Prime Minister has announced to grant 50 lakh rupees to the victims of the Chamoli flood.
The rescue operation focuses on the 1.5 km tunnel, where over 50 people might be trapped. The rescue operations are still ongoing and done in shifts to avoid further tensions.
WHAT CAUSED CHAMOLI FLOOD: EARLY SPECULATIONS
The scientists are still investigating the reasons for the Chamoli flood. As the higher resolution images are circulating, the scientists can dig deeper into their investigation. A team will revisit the spot in March to conclude the theories on the Chamoli flood.
Earlier, the scientists thought the Chamoli flood happened due to a snow avalanche. The scientists conjectured that the avalanche might have increased the water level of the Dhauliganga river.
But, as soon as the event unfolded, the scientists concluded that the avalanche might be a contributing factor but not the primary reason for the Chamoli flood.
B. GLACIAL LAKE OUTBURST FLOOD
The scientists also attribute the reasons for the Chamoli flood to the Glacial lake outburst flood.
Basically, a glacial lake forms due to the melting of the glaciers, the water from the glacier brings debris and vegetation while coming down to the ground. The debris stacks up at a place and forms a temporary boundary called moraine, this causes the melted water to amass at a place forming a glacial lake. Subsequently, the avalanche would have caused the lake water to wreck the moraine and flood into the Chamoli district. This phenomenon is known as glacial lake outburst flood, shortly, GLOF!
C. LANDSLIDE LAKE OUTBURST FLOOD
The Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology argues that the incident looks more sort of a landslide lake outburst flood. The satellite images prove there was heavy snowfall on the 5th and 6th February. The snow in the Nanda Devi region melted on 7th February and raised the water level of the Dhauliganga river to flood into Chamoli district.
CHAMOLI FLOOD: PRELIMINARY REPORT
The scientists on the ground zero submitted their preliminary report. The report says that the landslide in the north of Chamoli triggered the instance, which was later accompanied by a snow avalanche.
The landslide took down a mass of debris into the stream and formed a landside lake, which then breached under its pressure and caused the Chamoli flood. It was a wake-up call from nature as we aspire and try to progress.
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WAYS TO STOP CLIMATE CHANGE:
The dreams of development and inventions have blindfolded us to alter nature; the Chamoli flood is one such example. Uttarakhand is a disaster-prone area. Uttarakhand is very delicate to withstand natural calamities; floods, landslides, avalanches are dimes a dozen.
Dams, hydropower plants, pollution add to the climate change of Uttarakhand – the home of nature. The snowy mountains, glaciers are part of its beautiful natural heritage but are vulnerable to ‘human factors.’ Here are some of the solutions:-
RETHINKING DEVELOPMENT AND NATURE
A new way to look at development is to remix it with the environment. The developmental programs, to a certain extent, can take place without harming the environment. The key here is to mark the nodes where nature takes a lot of harm. The development conferences must include environmentalists and geology experts.
DECREASE HUMAN INTERVENTIONS
The mammoth projects like the Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project is going to impact the delicate young Himalayan range. The Himalayan area is already prone to various disasters, and history proves it as well. It is crucial to look at a broader perspective and locate these projects somewhere else.
ADAPT TO CHANGE: SEE QUICK SOLUTIONS
The GLOF and LLOF can be disastrous, and the example is in front of our eye in the form of Chamoli floods. The experts argue for a precaution rather than prevention. We can breach the landslide lakes and glacial lakes into narrow channels to allow the water to continue its natural flow. It will prevent the water from accumulating at a place, eventually outbursting into floods. The solution demands alertness and spontaneous satellite imaging of disaster-prone areas.
USING MORE RENEWABLE RESOURCES
The non-renewable resources are still on top of the charts. The switch to renewable resources is still in first gear. We must use renewable resources as they are a step ahead on every ground compared to the latter.
Solar energy, hydel energy, wind energy can make an impact in combatting climate change. The projects must scale-up to end the dependency on non-renewable alternatives. Currently, India depends 56% of its total energy consumption on coal.
The reasons for the Chamoli flood are still blurry. Uttarakhand has seen many such incidents in the past. The unfortunate cloud burst in 2013 led to take over 700 lives and left many people homeless. The government and countrypeople must come together to counter these instances. Human activities have indirectly caused a lot of damage. The regular human interventions in the fragile areas contribute to such tragedies.
We can sit and decipher many solutions to climate change, but it is more important to act upon them. Let’s take a step and make a change.