PHUTKAL RIVER BLOCKADE: High-level NDMA team to conduct survey on Feb 8

PHUTKAL RIVER BLOCKADE: High-level NDMA team to conduct survey on Feb 8

Officials said on the intervention of Governor NN Vohra, a team of experts from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) would conduct a survey of the spot on February 8.

With water level in Phutkalriver in Zanskar Valley of Kargil rising due to its blockade, the state government under Governor’s rule has finalized a comprehensive strategy to deal with the ‘imminent eco-disaster’ in the mountainous region.

Officials said on the intervention of Governor NN Vohra, a team of experts from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) would conduct a survey of the spot on February 8.

Pertinently, Phutkalriver got completely blocked on January 15 due to landslides, forming an artificial lake on a stretch of about five kms towards ChumikGyatsa.  Experts have warned of ‘imminent catastrophic flashfloods’ in Zanskar and its low-lying areas in case of bursting of accumulated waters in the artificial lake.

Vohra had asked the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to constitute a Multi-Disciplinary Expert Group with representatives drawn from National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Central Water Commission, Geological Survey of India, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology and other concerned to evolve an Action Plan for dealing with the issue.

Following the alarm, the NDMA constituted an expert Committee to proceed to the site. The Committee is led by V D Roy, Director Central Water Commission and comprises O P Gupta, Director CWC, B D Patni, Director NHPC, B M Gairola, Director GSI,  Maheshwar Singh, Officer Surveyor SOI, R K  Varma, Scientist-F, SASE, R K  Dhiman, SE HQ, Vijayak, Major Abhishek Kumar of 70 Engineering Regiment, Rajesh Kumar Basotra, SDM Zanskar and a Medical officer to be nominated by the State Government.

Deputy Commissioner Kargil has been nominated as Nodal Officer for conducting and liasioning with the Committee.

“The Committee will conduct survey of the blocked stretch on February 8 and recommend measures to deal with the situation. We have finalized a comprehensive strategy to deal with the imminent disaster in case of abrupt release of water from the blocked site of the river,” Divisional Commissioner Kashmir RohitKansal told Greater Kashmir.

He said during his recent visit to Kargil he reviewed status of the river blockade and preparatory measures in case of release of waters.

“Our priority is to save the inhabitants living in lower areas of the river. We have identified safe spots for their rehabilitation. We have also set up a sophisticated communication and alarm system in Phutkal to give early warning  in case of any eventuality,” he said.

Officials said around 600 metres of the river stretch has been blocked by soil and boulders creating a height of 50 metres. They said the present water level in the artificial lake due to the blockage is 80 percent of total height formed which amounts to storage of 30-35 cubic million water. 

On the directions of Vohra, the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir has made special arrangements for airlifting of persons who have been stranded due to the stoppage of movement of people on the Chadar route.

On Tuesday evening, the Member Parliament from Ladakh, ThupstanChhewang called on the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, KirenRijiju in New Delhi and sought his personal intervention into the matter.

“I told the MoS Home that the situation arising out of blockade of the river can have very serious consequences and needs immediate action to save life and property in Zanskar. I also requested him to send an expert team of the National Disaster Response Force to Zanskar and also undertake aerial survey so that he will be able to assess the magnitude and seriousness of the situation,” Chhewang told Greater Kashmir.

He said due to blockade of Phutkalriver, water level in Zanskar and Indus River have been reduced considerably affecting the hydel projects at Nimoo- Bazgo and Alchi. 

Chhewang had last month alerted the Union Minister of Home Affairs, Rajnath Singh, to take necessary action to prevent loss of life and property.

Due to the blockade of Phutkalriver, authorities have stopped the world famous Chadar trek between Chilling and Padum.

As reported by Greater Kashmir earlier, environmentalists have warned that delay in addressing the issue can cause “catastrophic flashfloods” in downstream areas of the Zanskar Valley.

In 2010, the flashfloods triggered by a cloudburst in Leh caused massive damage to life and property. In 2014, Jammu and Kashmir also witnessed large scale destruction due to floods triggered by incessant rains.