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Flood threat haunts villages
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 10
With the dam formed in Tibet due to blockage of Parchu, tributary of Sutlej, showing signs of breaching and the Chinese authorities not allowing Indian team to inspect the site, people living along the banks of the river may have to live under the shadow of flood threat for an indefinite period. More than two days have passed since the Chinese warned that the lake could overflow or the blockade could give way under increasing pressure of water anytime but nothing of that sort has happened. Flow of water in Parchu has been normal. There is also no definite indication about how the Chinese intended to do to solve problem. In fact, the latest information by the Chinese authorities has created more confusion regarding the size of the lake.

As per information a second lake has been formed upstream close to the first lake which was about 2.50 km long and 20 metre to 25 metre wide. However, the National Remote Sensing agency, Hyderabad, which has been monitoring the size of the lake with satellite imageries, maintained that the lake had only become elongated with the development of narrow but longish tail over the past three days.

The Satellite image taken at 2 pm yesterday (August 9) revealed that while the core area of the lake more or less remained almost same at 145 hectares with length of 1900 metres and maximum width of 1100 metres since August 6, a 2.80 km long and 20 metre wide tail had been formed. The total surface area of the water body along with the tail worked out to 188 hectares. There was also a narrow gallery of almost similar width on the downstream end of the lake up to the blockade point.

The government would have been in better position to handle the crisis had the Chinese allowed the Indian team to visit to have a first hand information on the status of the lake and nature of the blockage. Senior officers feel that magnitude of the crisis had increased due lack of authentic information about the water body. The Government of India left the matter to the lower-rung bureaucracy, which apparently has failed to make the Chinese authorities agree to the visit of the Indian team for site inspection. Things would have been different had the matter been taken up at appropriate political level.

At the moment high alert could not be withdrawn and the 3000 people of 56 villages along the 300 km length of the river who have been shifted to safer places could not return to their homes. They would have to stay in make-shift shelters for an unspecified period. Their life has become miserable. Writer Albert Camus has said that danger when apparently not seen becomes an imperfect and vague imagination of human mind. This is happening in the instant case.

The Government of India must take up the matter at the highest level for the visit of the Indian team so that life could be normal.

Meanwhile the administration, the Army and the ITBP remain on high alert for any eventuality. Besides four platoons of Home Guard, extra police force had been deployed in Rampur. Six medical teams had also been kept standby and the 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri project had been further closed up to August 12.

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