Yuva - India

The Chamoli Glacier breach

Uttarakhand is a north Indian state which is crossed by the mighty Himalayas. Being situated in the lap of mountains it is a state which attracts a lot of tourists because of its surreal natural beauty and serenity. Along with bestowing its visitors with the bliss of nature, Uttarakhand is an important pilgrimage centre for the Hindus and is thus called as ‘Devabhumi’.

One the one hand, the location and topography of this state makes it one of the most renowned places to travel to but on the other, nature’s calm embodies within itself its wrath and the disaster it can unleash. The state and its inhabitants continue to fall prey to nature’s demonic play intermittently. Everybody remembers the disaster of 2013. A multi- day cloudburst caused devastating floods and landslides making it one of the worst disasters in the history of India.

Another natural disaster shook the state on the 7th of February, 2021. A massive flash- flood was reported after the water level of the Dhauliganga River rose to dangerous levels suddenly because of the breakdown of a glacier near a power project at Raini village in Tapovan area of Chamoli district. The flood destroyed many houses which were situated at the riverbank in the affected area.

Owing to the swift action of the administration, hundreds of ITBP personnel had rushed to the spot to rescue the hapless villagers. More than 50 labourers were also reported to be working on the site at the time of the incident. Immediately after the incident was reported, the Chamoli district magistrate had instructed officials to evacuate people living on the banks of the Dhauliganga River and the district magistrate and superintendent of police had rushed to the spot.

Also, the people living on the banks of the Alakananda River were asked to move to a safer place and were evacuated to ensure the same. As a precautionary measure, the flow of the Bhagirathi River was also stopped. And to prevent the flow of its waters, the Srinagar and Rishikesh dams were emptied. According to the authorities, the RishiGanga power project has been damaged due to the glacier breach.

By the evening of 9th February, the death toll rose to 31 as the multi- agency operation to rescue around 35 workers who were reportedly trapped inside a swamped tunnel at the Tapovan power project continued. Union Home Minister Amit Shah issued a statement and said that all the central and state agencies are monitoring the situation. Also the PM is scrutinizing the movements closely and the state is being provided with all the assistance required.

Personnel of the ITBP, NDRF and the army worked tirelessly to locate around 170 people, mostly labourers at two power projects who were reported to be missing until Tuesday evening.

Interestingly, while the rescue operations were going on and the whole nation was collectively praying for the disaster victims, a cabal composed of armchair environmental activists came out on social media platforms to blatantly accuse the government for carrying out too many developmental activities in the state!

As these self- proclaimed ‘experts’ opine, the disaster was a result of construction of dams. And even during the time when such an unfortunate and disastrous incident took place, these ‘environmentalists’ worked in tandem with the left- liberal media houses like ‘The Wire’ and started pedalling misinformation and falsities, presenting them as the ‘obvious’ determinants of the floods and the avalanche.

Soon after the disaster was reported, Dia Mirza who was earlier a Bollywood actress took to twitter and posted a series of tweets blaming the construction of dams for the Chamoli disaster. Unfortunately, it seems that she has negligible ideas about natural hazards or disaster management per se. And still she claimed, “Building too many dams in the Himalayas has led to this.” According to her understanding, the disaster was the result of cutting too many trees, cutting into mountains, building dams along with climate changes. Toeing the line, many left- liberals, Congress supporters and their henchmen blamed the ‘dams’ for the disaster too.

In her tweet, Mrinal Pande, a ‘journalist’ who was formerly associated with the Congress Party mouthpiece ‘National Herald’, implored the state government to stop promoting ‘environmentally vulnerable zones’ as a tourist destination and calling it ‘Devbhumi’. As per Pande’s opinion, widening of roads, large water and power projects are endangering millions of human lives in Uttarakhand.

Another ‘journalist’ who works with the ultra- leftist portal ‘Scroll’, Supriya Sharma, also put out  a report on twitter that claimed that successive governments of Uttarakhand have put pressure on the centre to keep the projects going. She added that dams and highways is how politicians make money in Uttarakhand.

Satyajeet Tambe, a Congress leader said, “It’s high time we take global warming and dam construction seriously and treat our environment sensibly.”

Though all these ‘experts’ went on a sensitizing spree to spread awareness among the masses, the fact of the matter is that they most probably missed out on the real circumstances which led to the disaster and did not bother to get a hang of the real ‘facts. Contrary to their claims of dams and developmental projects being the reason behind the Chamoli disaster, the flash- floods and avalanche wreaked havoc because of a glacier burst which is a completely natural phenomenon and no developmental projects could have ever been introduced near a glacier. After the glacier breach, the water flowed downwards with tremendous force which resulted in higher water levels in the Dhauliganga. No dams can ever be held responsible for an occurrence like this. Rather, the dams and reservoirs like the Tehri dam proved to be instrumental to avert a downstream disaster. Thus, it was for the dams and flood control system at play which prevented other severities.

As a response to the ‘experts’ sharing their ‘advice’ with the people, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat requested people not to use the natural calamity as a propaganda against developmental activities.

It is startling yet obvious how the liberal cabal of this nation can piggyback on a natural calamity which proved to be a disaster for many, to spread falsehoods in the name of ‘awareness’ and carry out their propaganda!


Sonakshi Datta

Intern, Goa Chronicle
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