Even as the Raini village in Uttrakhand’s Joshimath is yet to come to terms with the disaster that unfolded in front of them last week, the residents have a new concern – a lake that was formed from the avalanche.
The State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) has reached the spot in Chamoli, informed Uttrakhand Police Headquarters.
“SDRF team has reached the lake that has formed upstream of Raini village near Tapovan. Though it is a lake, water is discharging from it. The lake appears to be around 350 meters long. We will get more information after the team returns,” said Nilesh Anand Bharan, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Law and Order).
Earlier on Friday, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat told media persons, “We have information about a lake that has been formed near Raini village in Joshimath. The lake is being monitored through satellites. Right now, we need to be cautious, but there is nothing to be worried about.”
“It is about 400 meters wide. We do not know the depth. A team of scientists will visit the site to keep a check on it. They will air-dropped on the site for 3-4 hours through a helicopter and will submit a report. The Air Force is ready for this,” he added.
Choppers have taken videos of this artificial lake, which is thrice the length of a football field.
Though experts have said that there is no immediate threat of the lake busting, panicked residents have started spending nights in the open forests.
The exact cause of the flash flood which ripped through two hydel projects is not clear, but it may have been triggered by an avalanche.
A report by the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology says that the debris brought by it has blocked a stream that joins the Rishiganga, leading to the formation of a temporary lake.
If breached, the new lake could cause further damage in the valley, the report said. The Central Water Commission also confirmed the formation of a 350-meter long “artificial lake”.
Satellite pictures suggest it is at the confluence of Raunthi Gad and Rishiganga.
Experts are still trying to determine if the temporary lake could breach its banks and threaten the rescue work at the sludge-choked Tapovan tunnel, where 25-30 people are feared trapped.
Meanwhile, the death toll in the Uttarakhand glacier burst incident reached 38 on Friday. According to police, 166 people are still missing following the incident.
The rescue operations that were temporarily halted following a rise in the level of water in the Rishiganga River yesterday will also be resumed today, said Uttarakhand Director-General of Police (DGP) Ashok Kumar.