A part of glacier has bursted in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand on Sunday, which triggered an icefall and flood in the Alaknanda river system that washed away five rivers and many hyderoelectric stations. Total 14 people have lost their lives and 170 are missing in the disaster. Many adjacent roads and areas are swept away which forced the state authorities to evacuate the nearby villages. Teams of National Disaster Response Team (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) have been deployed and six columns of Army and seven Navy diving teams have been sent for the rescue operations.
Out of those 170 who are missing 148 were employed at National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) and 22 in Rishiganga project. 170 people – 148 employed at the NTPC plant and 22 at Rishiganga – are still missing. Approximately 30 are trapped n a 2.5 km long tunnel and rescue teams conducted rescue operation throughout the night and still working. The area of the tunnel, the low temperature and the mud and debris in the tunnel are becoming challenges for the rescuers in their rescue operation.
However, the SDRF team removed the debris out of the tunnel near the Topavan dam in Chamoli district for the rescue. The team of SDRF had to wait for the level of river to get lower so that they could rescue the people trapped in the tunnel. Around twelve people have been rescued so far by the ITBP team.
“Our team reached at 3 am. They’ve started the rescue operations. We hope for the best and are doing our best. We’re using the latest and the best of the equiment. The terrain is so rugged and the temp reached up to sub zero (conditions). In such conditions, it is diffcult to conduct rescue operations. But our team is doing its best,” told Praveen Kumar Tiwary, the NDRF Commandant.
The roads to villages in the hills were connected through the bridges that are washed away in the disaster. Arrangements are being made to airdrop the food packets to the villages, said the officials.
The Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Trivendra Singh Rawat visited the Chamoli district on Sunday to survey the situation and has announced Rs.4 lakh as a compensation to each of the families of those who have lost their lives in the disaster and extra Rs.2 lakh will be given from Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund with Rs.50,000 more to those with serious injuries.
“India stands with Uttarakhand and the nation prays for everyone’s safety.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Sunday. He said he spoke with Mr Rawat and that he is “constantly monitoring the situation”. Home Minister Amit Shah also tweeted; he said the Modi government stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Uttarakhand.
The disaster is a gloomy reminder of Uttarakhand’s floods, as in 2013 there were monsoon floods in the state which killed 6,000 people and led for many development projects in the state mainly of isolated areas like the nearby areas of the Rish Ganga dam.