M A I N   N E W S

China urged to give data on lake
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

Three satellite pictures depict the size of the lake formed in the Parchu.
These three satellite pictures (from left) taken on May 10, July 26 and August 9 depict the size of the lake formed in the Parchu. While the first picture shows that there was no formation of the lake at that time, the ones taken on July 26 and August 9 show the water-spread of the lake at 140 ha and 152 ha, respectively.

New Delhi, August 12
With reports of a "five-metre breach" in the lake in Tibet on the Parchu tributary of Sutlej and its water level returning to "normal," the Centre's core group monitoring the threat of floods has decided to send a team of the Central Water Commission officials to the tributary's entry-point at LAC to measure the flow of water.

Sources said the core group met this evening following information from China about a "five-metre breach" in the lake.

Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi also called a high-level meeting today morning to review the situation regarding threat of flood from water accumulation in the Tibet lake. Sources said the meeting, which was attended by top officials of the Ministries of Home, External Affairs, Defence, Water Resources, besides Director General of ITBP, decided that the issue of visit of an Indian technical team to the lake site should be taken up at the "highest official level." They said the Cabinet Secretary would monitor the situation arising from threat of flood on a regular basis and brief Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Sources said the Army had reported that the breach in the lake has brought the water flow in Parechu "back to normal." The water is apparently flowing in Parchu at the level that existed before the huge lake was formed, the sources said. They said the flow of water had not been measured as yet and the Armymen's assessment was based "on what they had seen."

"If the situation remains the same in the next 48 hours, then the threat of flood is likely to recede," a senior official said.

Officials monitoring the flood threat are keen to know the exact intake and discharge from the lake. "The intake and discharge should match or the outflow should be more.

If inflow in the lake is more than outflow, then breach can become wider," the official said.

They said China was being urged to provide data on inflow and outflow from the lake. The sources said breach in the lake was "natural."

China had said today morning that artificial lake was overflowing along its entire length and the condition of the "dam" was unstable.

However, it said later that the water was overflowing the dam smoothly and there was a "five-metre gap" at the top.

Meanwhile, an MEA spokesman said today water overflow from artificial dam had begun. “The dam has not burst yet. It is intact. This information was first obtained at 3 pm today and then rechecked at 5.30 pm. Water is discharging but the condition is not stable,” he said.

The spokesman said “both sides are in close touch”.

Asked about the request of the Indian team to access the artificial lake site, the spokesman said China had said the location was extremely remote and weather was inclement due to continuing rain.

He said the Centre had taken several steps, including strengthening communications and storing essential commodities. IAF helicopters had been kept on stand by for evacuation and ferrying commodities.

Official sources said there was no confirmation of any explosion taking place at the artificial lake site. They said China had also despatched its teams but they reached about a kilometre of the lake site.

The sources said India wanted permission from China for air sortie over the site of lake as it was only about 30 km from the LAC but far off from Tibetian capital Lhasa. However, China had so far not given permission, the sources said.

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