Manjeet Sehgal, Chandigarh (India Today): Threat of floods is looming large on around two dozen villages and towns located on the banks of Sutlej River in Himachal Pradesh as Parchu Lake in Tibet, China, is filling up again. Remote sensing satellite pictures taken on July 15, 2013 show excess water has accumulated in the lake, located in the upper reaches of Himalayas, in the past one month. The development has alarmed the authorities and thousands of residents in nearby areas who have been a witness to the fury of Parchu in 2005.
Though the signs are not as alarming as they were in 2005, when a breach in the lake wreaked havoc in areas near Sutlej, the authorities are keeping a constant watch on the water level of the lake.
“We are closely monitoring the situation. The water spread of the Parchu Lake has increased to 100 hectares from the original 43 hectares. The water inflow to the lake has exceeded the outflow. But there is no need for panic. We have informed the National Remote Sensing Agency in Hyderabad about the development. We have requested them to monitor the situation on day-to-day basis,” said P. Gyamba Dorje, Regional Director, Central Water Commission.
At present, the outflow from Parchu Lake is not alarming but in case the water gathers speed and volume, it can trigger flash floods in the downstream areas. The towns and villages facing a flood threat include Leo, Sumdo (in Lahul and Spiti), Khab, Dubling, Spillow, Powari,Tapri, Nathpa, Kaksthal, Choling (army establishments), Wangtu, Bhaba Nagar (in Kinnaur), Katalu, Jagatkhana, Chati, Bro, Nogli, Duttnagar, Nirsu, Nirath , Luhari and Bahna (in Shimla district).
Parchu Lake was formed after landslides had blocked Parchu River in June 2004. Parchu River, which originated from Tibet, was a tributary of Spiti River.
The Spiti River joins Sutlej at Khab in Kinnaur district. In 2005, floods triggered by Parchu breach caused widespread destruction from Leo to Tattapani areas of the state. Damage to property was estimated around `1,400 crore. About 350 km of road length from Samdo to Gobindsagar (Bhakra Dam) was damaged in the deluge.
Given the devastation in 2005, the state authorities are not ready to take any chance with their preparation this time. The State Council for Science, Technology and Environment has also confirmed the increase in water level in the Parchu Lake.
“We first noticed accumulation of more water in Parchu Lake on June 22 this year, but the July 5, 2013 pictures showed that the water had flowed out of the lake. The most recent images, taken on July 15, show an increase in the water volume again. It is slightly higher than July 5. Sediments are also seen in the lake,” said Dr S.S. Randhawa, Scientific Officer, State Council for Science, Technology and Environment.
Dr Randhava said latest remote sensing images will be available only by the end of this month when the satellite will move naturally. The threat has subsided. There is no need to panic,” said state chief secretary Sudripta Roy.
Lack of communication from the Chinese side has also made it a difficult to assess the threat from the lake. The Chinese government has not shared any information about the possible flood threat from Parchu Lake despite giving an assurance regarding the same in 2006 when an Indian delegation had visited China to discuss the issue. over Parchu region.
Himachal government officials said there is no reason to panic as of now but in case of any eventuality, they are fully prepared to evacuate the flood-prone areas. “The water level in the Parchu had increased to an alarming level last month mainly due to blockades along the main stream channel. There was a threat that the lake would breach its banks. But now the water outflow has started recedingnaturally. The threat has subsided.
There is no need to panic,” said state chief secretary Sudripta Roy. Lack of communication from the Chinese side has also made it a difficult to assess the threat from the lake. The Chinese government has not shared any information about the possible flood threat from Parchu Lake despite giving an assurance regarding the same in 2006 when an Indian delegation had visited China to discuss the issue.
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