M A I N   N E W S

No flashflood threat, say reports from China
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 7
Maintaining the high alert in the wake of flood threat due to the formation of a lake in Tibet, the government today decided not to dismantle the Bailey bridges and restart generation in the Nathpa-Jhakri project on the Sutlej river in view of latest reports from China that there was no immediate possibility of the blockade giving way and causing flash floods.

Latest satellite imageries indicate that the size of the lake formed in Tibet due to blockage of the Parechu , a tributary of the Sutlej, by landslide has a surface area of just 150 hectares. However, the data provided by the Chinese authorities yesterday had put it at 900 hectares.

The satellite image taken at 2.00 pm yesterday reveals that the lake is 1,900 m in length and 9,00 m wide. The government last evening received the report of the National Remote Sensing Agency, Hyderabad, in this regard. There has been an increase of 10 hectares in the surface area since July 26 when the last satellite image was taken. The surface area was 123 hectares on July 16, 137 hectares on July 21, 140 hectares on July 26 and 150 hectares on August 7.

However, as per information provided by the Chinese authorities to the Government of India August 4, the water body had acquired a length of over 6,000 m and a width of 1,500 m. The water level had risen to 71 m and the front height of the dam created by the landslide was 80 m. The surface area worked out to 900 hectares.

The Western Command had urged the government to review the decision to dismantle the Bailey bridges and had written to the Chief Secretary in this regard. The matter was also discussed at a meeting held in Delhi to review the situation in which the state was asked not to dismantle the bridges and it was assured that in case these were washed away by flash floods, the Centre would provide new ones.

A hotline had also been established with China so that information in case of a breach in the blockade could be provided instantly. Villagers living by the side of the river would get at least two hours more to move to safer places.

It was also decided that generation would be resumed in the 1500 mw as soon as the level of silt, which had increased 13,000 ppm (parts per million), came down. The project authorities would put in place a warning mechanism so that workers could be evacuated from the power house and necessary protective measures taken to safeguard the project.

The state electricity board has also decided to continue with normal generation in the 126 mw Bhabha project and the 22.50 mw Ghanvi project which are located by the side of the Sutlej. It has prepared a contingency plan to deal with the threat, which will enable it to evacuate the manpower deployed and close down the project well before the flood waters reach the site.

Work of shifting people from low-lying areas of Kinnaur, Shimla, Mandi and Kulu continued for the third day today.

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