Lessons To Be Learnt From Uttarakhand Glacier Burst

The Centre and the Uttarakhand government cannot ignore the larger context of the State’s increasing frailty in the face of environmental shocks.

  • Deep gorges and canyons have attracted many hydroelectric projects and dams, with little concern for earthquake risk.
  • Red flags have been raised repeatedly: Moderate quake took place in the region in 1991; 2013 floods that devastated Kedarnath.
  • Seismicity, dam-induced microseismicity, landslides and floods make the area disaster-prone.
  • The ecosystem of fragile the Himalayan region has been threatened by dam development and growth of hydropower.
  • There are little benefits of dam development; on the other hand, such developments also cause siltation.
  • The need is to rigorously study the impact of policy on the Himalayas and confine hydro projects to those with the least impact.

Development policys Can’t Ingonre Himalayan glaciology

  • The way mountains and high-altitude regions of India are being developed need to be reexamined.
  • Landslides, avalanches and flash foods always happen in Uttarakhand. Many studies, including the one, conducted by ISRO have confirmed that almost all the 1,000-odd glaciers in the state are on the retreat.
  • The Himalayas are a young and therefore volatile mountain system. Even a minor change in the orientation of its rocks can trigger landslides.
  • Currently, DPRs (detailed project reports) of all infrastructure projects in the region do not factor in the volatile mountain system of the region.
  • Detailed studies should be conducted to understand which of the 12,000-odd glacial lakes in Uttarakhand are prone to flooding.

Glacial Lake Outburst Flooding (GLOF)

  • A glacial lake outburst flooding (GLOF) occurs when a breach in the glacial lake causes a sudden surge downstream.
  • Such lakes are formed when glaciers erode land, melt and over time become a large mass of water in the depression formed, and these can be breached, causing floods downstream.
  • The Central Water Commission (CWC) monitors and prepares monthly reports on the state of glacial lakes and waterbodies measuring 10 hectares and above via satellite.