(L) Locals inspect the site near damaged Dhauli Ganga hydropower project (R) at Reni village on Sunday.
NEW DELHI, FEB 7 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 2/7/2021 12:11:18 PM IST

  * 7 bodies recovered 170 missing  5 bridges destroyed

A portion of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on Sunday, triggering an avalanche and a deluge in the Alaknanda river system that washed away hydroelectric stations, leaving at least seven people dead and 170 missing, some feared dead.

Over 170 labourers- 148 employed at the NTPC plant and 22 at Rishiganga - are said to be missing, Indo Tibetan Border Police spokesperson Vivek Pandey said while quoting the project-in charge. Seven bodies were recovered, Pandey said.

The sudden flood in the middle of the day in the Dhauli Ganga, Rishi Ganga and Alaknanda rivers-- all intricately linked tributaries of the Ganga-- triggered widespread panic and large-scale devastation in the high mountain areas.

Access to at least 13 villages in Uttarakhand’s Tapovan remains cut off. The glacial disaster washed away five bridges of the Border Roads Organisation in the area. Officials said arrangements are being made to airdrop food packets to the villages.

Two power projects – NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project and the Rishi Ganga Hydel Project – were extensively damaged with scores of labourers trapped in tunnels as the waters came rushing in.

A Home Ministry spokesperson said four NDRF teams (about 200 personnel) were airlifted to Dehradun and would head to Joshimath. One column of the Engineering Task Force (ETF) of the Army, with all rescue equipment, has been deployed. Indian Navy divers were also being flown in and aircraft and helicopters of the Indian Air Force are on standby.

Meanwhile, sixteen men were rescued safely from a tunnel in the Tapovan project but over 100 were still missing. As night fell in the ecologically fragile Himalayas  and rescue work in the difficult to access areas became more difficult, there were fears they may be dead.

Many villages were evacuated and people taken to safer areas. By evening, it became clear that downstream areas were safe.  

Union Home minister Amit Shah assured all help in fighting the calamity and said he was in constant touch with the Uttarakhand chief minister.

In a series of tweets in Hindi, Shah said teams of the NDRF were deployed for rescue and relief operations of the affected people while additional troops of the force were  being airlifted from Delhi. 

Shah said the central government is constantly monitoring the situation in the state.

PM approves Rs.2 lakh ex-gratia for victims

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each from the PM’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives. The central government has also announced Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was constantly monitoring the situation in the state. “India stands with Uttarakhand, prays for everyone’s safety,” he said.

In another tweet, he added, “The disaster caused by the breaking of the glacier in Uttarakhand, and the civilian casualties in it, was extremely sad. My condolences are with his family in this hour of grief, I pray to God for the speedy recovery of the injured.”

Leaders from around the world have also offered condolences to the families of the victims.

Further, Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat also Sunday announced Rs. 4 lakh compensation for those killed by floods in the state and said it was for experts to find out the cause while the government was focused on saving lives.


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