River blockage: 40 Zanskar villages face flood threat

JAMMU: “After the spot assessment, we have reached the conclusion that some immediate action is needed to avert the threat in the area.

River blockage: 40 Zanskar villages face flood threat

The NDMA team in Zanskar, Kargil. File photograph

editorial@tribune.com

Tribune News Service

 

Jammu, February 13

With the danger of floods looming large over at least 40 villages in the Zanskar sub-division of Kargil district following the blockage of Phuktal river, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) will be holding a crucial meeting to discuss the Expert Committee’s report in New Delhi on February 18.

The NDMA is expected to take a final call and suggest remedial measures to the state government for averting the “imminent eco-disaster” in the Zanskar region. The threat has emerged after massive landslides on the Phuktal river formed an artificial lake on a stretch of almost 10 km.

The four-member Expert Committee of the NDMA, which conducted spot assessment on February 11, collected soil and rock samples besides conducting volumetric analysis of the artificial lake created by the blockage.

G Prasanna Ramaswamy, Deputy Commissioner, Kargil, said: “After the spot assessment, we have reached the conclusion that some immediate action is needed to be taken to avert the threat in the area. Earlier, we were under the impression that it would not create any threat but the blockage is dangerous. The expert team will submit its report to the NDMA, which is holding a crucial meeting in New Delhi on February 18 to discuss the report and take a final call to get rid of this problem.”

Ramaswamy said, “We are hopeful of finding a solution to the threat in the next 10 days. The NDMA will suggest remedial measures to the state government to deal with this problem only after the February 18 meeting.”

Skalzang Wangyal, one of the members of the Expert Committee and executive councillor, Zanskar, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil, said: “At least 40 villages comprising a population of more than 5,000 will be directly affected once river waters, which are currently frozen, start melting after a rise in temperature. The people of 40 villages are sitting on a bomb which may explode any time if action is not taken within a week’s time,” he said.

The Expert Committee findings revealed that the obstruction (landslide debris) was about 400 metres long along the river bed, 50 metres high and 100 metres wide across the river bed.

On February 10, the 10-member NDMA team headed by Director of the Central Water Commission V D Roy could only undertake an aerial survey due to bad weather conditions but a four-member team managed to land near the landslide site the very next day.

More than 150 people have been evacuated from the region so far. The District Administration of Leh and Kargil have blocked the famous Chadar frozen river route since January 17 for locals and tourists. The administration has prepared the plans for rehabilitation and relocation to ensure the safety of the people in the Zanskar sub-division.

Governor NN Vohra had asked the NDMA to constitute a multi-disciplinary expert group with representatives drawn from the National Remote Sensing Centre, Central Water Commission, Geological Survey of India, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology and other authorities concerned to evolve an action plan for dealing with the threat in the Zanskar region following the Phuktal river blockage.

‘Action needed to avert disaster’

After the spot assessment, we have reached the conclusion that some immediate action is needed to avert the threat in the area. The expert team will submit its report to the NDMA, which is holding a crucial meeting in New Delhi on February 18 to discuss the report and take a final call to get rid of this problem.
—G Prasanna Ramaswamy, deputy commissioner, kargil

 

 

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