M A I N   N E W S

Take up joint inspection of lake with China, HP to Centre
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 17
The Himachal Pradesh Government has urged the Government of India to once again take up the matter with the Chinese authorities for a joint inspection of the lake formed in Tibet due to blockage of Parchu, a tributary of the Sutlej, by the experts of the two countries even as the latest satellite images indicate that the water body was gradually stabilising and the threat of a flash flood was receding.

The satellite images taken yesterday show a steady overflow from the lake and there has been no discernible increase in the surface area of 193 hectare of the lake since August 12. This could happen only if the inflow matches the outflow. Further, there has also been no alarming erosion from the top, which indicated that the barrier was strong.

The Chinese authorities have also informed that the blockade material comprised limestone and dolomite rocks. The average rainfall in the area was 200 mm and the geological instability of the hills could have triggered off the landslides.

The flash-flood threat is gradually receding as the satellite images and the data given by the Chinese authorities indicate that the water body was stabilising and that there was little possibility of the blockade giving way suddenly. Mr H.K. Sharma, director (civil) of the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam , says that earthen and rock-filled dams fail only when erosion starts from the top after overflow. The lake has been overflowing for the past more than four days and there has been no abrupt rise in the discharge of the river to suggest erosion at the top. As such, the possibility of dam failure is receding with each passing day.

The Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam restarted four of its six 250 MW units of the Nathpa-Jhakri project today.

However, the state government feels that the exact status of the water body and the risk of the blockade giving way could be assessed only by carrying out a joint inspection. While appreciating the Chinese authorities for giving vital information about the lake, it maintains that to end the prevailing uncertainty, spot inspection is essential.

More so, because the exact depth of the lake was not known. The government agencies had worked out the depth to be 40 m by superimposing the satellite images on the contour maps.

The Chinese authorities had given different figures ranging from the initial figure of 15 m to 71 m over the past fortnight. However, in reply to the specific queries posed by the Government of India, they have informed that the area was not submerged under water before the blockade, indicating that no lake existed earlier at the site.

The bed of the lake was 3790 m from the mean sea level and the top surface 3860 m, which means that the depth was 70 m.

In the situation, the government has no option but to wait and watch. The crisis management group at its daily meeting decided to maintain the high alert for the next three days.



Tibet lake may burst soon: Chinese official

Beijing, August 17
A Tibetan lake formed by a Himalayan landslide was steadily rising and would sooner or later burst its banks and flood a valley in neighbouring India, a Chinese official said today.

The lake developed late last month after the landslide blocked the Parchu river, a tributary of the river Sutlej that also flows into India, prompting the evacuation of at least 3,000 persons from downstream villages.

“The water level in the lake is rising pretty steadily these days, by several cm a day,” said an official with the Water Resources Bureau in Tibet’s Ali prefecture.

But authorities in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh have evacuated more than 3,000 persons from eight villages on the banks of the Sutlej.

“There is still a danger with the lake,” a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.


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