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Shah says Uttarakhand flash floods caused by snow avalanche triggered by landslide
New Delhi, February 9, 2021
Union Home Minister Amit Shah today said that a landslide that triggered a snow avalanche, measuring about 14 sq km area, in the catchment of Rishiganga river, at the terminus of a glacier at an altitude of 5,600 metres, caused the flash floods that wreaked havoc in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand on Sunday.
The avalanche occurred at 1000 hours on February 8 in the upper catchment of the Rishiganga, a tributary of Alaknanda, which led to a sudden rise in the water level of the Rishiganga, Shah said in a suo motu statement in Parliament.
"Due to flash flood on account of rising of water levels in the river Rishiganga, a functional Rishiganga small hydro project of 13.2 MW was washed away. The flash flood also affected the under construction 520 MW NTPC Hydro Power Project downstream at Tapovan on the river Dhauliganga," he said.
Shah said that, as per information received from Government of Uttarakhand, 20 persons have died and six others have been injured so far.
"As per information, a total of 197 persons are reported missing which includes 139 persons of under-construction project of NTPC, 46 persons of the functional Rishiganga Project and 12 villagers. The State Government has gathered this information from different sources and this may change. The above information is as on 08.02.2021 at 1700 hours," he said.
Shah said 12 persons from NTPC project, who were trapped in a tunnel, have been rescued. Another 15 persons from Rishiganga project have also been rescued.
"In another tunnel of NTPC project, approximately 25–35 persons are suspected to have been trapped. Rescue operation to evacuate these persons is going on on a war footing and all-out efforts are simultaneously being made for searching missing persons," he said.
The Home Minister said the Uttarakhand government had reported that there was no danger of downstream flooding and the rise in water level had been contained. The Centre and the State Government were keeping a strict vigil on the situation.
The State Government has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 4 lakh each for the next-of-kin of those who have lost their lives due to the incident.
He said that, due to the washing away of one bridge, 13 villages around the place of incident have been cut off. In these villages, necessary supplies and medical assistance are being provided through helicopters.
Shah said the situation was being monitored round the clock by the Central Government at the highest level. The Prime Minister himself is monitoring the situation closely.
Both Control Rooms of Ministry of Home Affairs are monitoring the situation 24X7 and all possible help is being provided to the State, he said.
The Union Power Minister has visited the site of the incident and supervised the rescue and relief work, he said.
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has also set up a control room and as many as 450 ITBP personnel, with all necessary equipment, are engaged in rescue and relief operations.
Five teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) NDRF teams have reached at the place of incident and are engaged in rescue and relief operations.
Eight teams of the Indian Army, including one Engineer Task Force (ETF), are carrying rescue operations at the incident site. One medical column with two ambulances are also deployed. One diving team of Indian Navy has also reached the site. Five helicopters of the Indian Air Force have also been enggaed in rescue operations. A control room has been established at Joshimath.
"In spite of adverse conditions at incident site, search and rescue operation is continuously being carried out. After continuous and tireless efforts since night, Army has cleared debris at opening of the tunnel to rescue the persons trapped in it," he said.
"All the staff of the Central Water Commission deployed in Alaknanda and Ganga Basin up to Haridwar are on alert. One team of Sashtra Seema Bal (SSB) is also deployed at incident site. Team of Snow & Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) /DRDO has also reached at the site for surveillance and reconnaissance. CMD, NTPC has reached at the place of incident," he said.
Shah also listed the steps taken by the State Government to handle the situation. He said electricity has been restored in almost all the affected areas. Restoration of five completely damaged damaged bridges has been initiated by the Public Works Department and the Border Roads Organisation.
The Minister also mentioned that in 2020-21, Rs 1041.00 crore has been allocated to the State of Uttarakhand under the State Disaster Risk Management Fund (SDRMF). The first installment of the Central share amounting to Rs 468.50 crore has been released to the State Government.
"I assure the House that the Centre is extending all possible assistance for relief and rescue work to the State Government. The Central Government is working in close coordination with the State and all the necessary steps, which are considered appropriate, are being taken," he added.