35 Uttarakhand Flash Flood: UNESCO World Heritage Nanda Devi National Glacier

Introduction: Uttarakhand Flash Flood

7th February in 2021, in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, about 300 km east of Dehradun triggering a massive avalanche and a flash flood, The scene of a disaster that occurred in Uttarakhand was one of the biggest devastations by the flash flood. Site of the UNESCO World Heritage Nanda Devi National Park on the outskirts of the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand province, which is believed to have been caused by landslides, snowfall, or glaciers. The impact of flash floods in Chamoli district, especially the Rishiganga river and Dhauliganga river, and the main river Alaknanda-Ganga. As far as concerned by the disaster recovery team, At least two deaths have been confirmed and more than 142 are missing.

Uttarakhand Flash Flood

Figure: 1 Show the Specific Cover of Nanda Devi Glacier

Causes: Flash Flood

  • Glacier and snow-covered.
  • High Ice weight.
  • Running water behind the ice.
  • Rapid freezing and melting of ice.
  • Construction of river valleys in the paraglacial region.

Future Prediction: Flash Flood

  • According to some reports, the floods which started on February 7 left Nanda Devi glacier and snow-covered floodplain following the running water behind the ice. Other reports indicate that the satellite imagery was due to ground extension.
  • On 13 February 2021, The Times, London reported that some glaciers and land sliding caused flooding. Satellite images indicate 0.5 miles (0.80 km) on the wall of the Nanda Devi Massif side mountain wall 20,700 feet (6,300 m) southwest of the Nanda Devi Nature Reserve.
  • According to an article in Scientific American of February 12, 2021, data from Planet Labs was interpreted by Geomorphologist Diane Schuger of the University of Calgary, suggesting that the hanging glacier was “15 feet long and five feet” separated by a mountain. Enter Punta Ghat, a tributary of the Rashiganga.
  • Five scientists from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology in Dehradun, India, boarded a helicopter, took photographs and collected other information, reported BBC News; They believe the Hanging Glacier erupted and sank in the Ish Shigang Basin, just below the Nanda Gunty, a 5,600 m (18,372 ft) tributary attached to the Ronti.
  • According to Dr. Karchand Sen the Director of Wadia Institute, climate change is a major factor in the rapid freezing and melting of ice that destroys glaciers.
  • According to the New York Times, scientists have long warned the Indian government that the Himalayas are warming dangerously fast and that the region’s ecosystem is physically more vulnerable to development projects. 
  • Director of the People’s Science Institute in Uttarakhand and a member of a scientific committee appointed by the Supreme Court of India in 2014, Dr. Ravi Chopra advised against the construction of river valleys in the paraglacial region, which has a floor area of ​​over 7,000 feet, but the Indian government overruled his objections.
  • According to Dr. Chopra, both floodplain hydroelectric projects were constructed in the region. According to New York Times, another committee headed by Dr. Chopra and appointed by the Supreme Court of India in 2020, the Government of India has built a 33-mile-long highway 500 miles long to improve visibility in the hills of Uttarakhand.
Nanda Devi National Glacier 2


  • In the Hindu temples of the High Himalayas, following the advice of their own experts, the village was most affected by the flash floods, which swept through the 13-MW Ish Shiganga hydroelectric project. The residents of the village feared that the destruction of rocks during the construction of the hydroelectric dam would lead to dangerous landslides. “We used to hear the bang and see the rocks changing,” he said. “While this project was under construction, half of our village slipped. We requested to shift here. The government said that they would do it, but it never happened. “

Damage: Flash Flood

  1. The Rishiganga project was damaged on the Rishi Ganga River, a river on the Rishiganga river and 35 workers working on the project are missing.
  2. In the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, the Dholi River has done maximum damage.
  3. Ganga Dam (30 ° 33 ″ 45 79 N 79 ° 34′33) e, which is located at the junction of the Rishiganga and Ganga rivers, was submerged by floodwaters. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivenderm Singh Rawat said the recent floods also hit a very large hydro project along with the NPTC, resulting in 176 workers working on a project that had two tunnels in which these workers were trapped. 
  4. Senior police officials told the media that the bridge in the Tapovan area, which is connected to 13 villages, was washed away by the snow. 
  5. The worst affected by the floods include Jashim, Renee, Nanda Devi National Park, Tipovin Vishnogad hydroelectric power plant, and Sridhar.

Relief efforts: Flash Flood

  • Many villages had already been evacuated as authorities emptied two dams down the river to prevent floodwaters from reaching the towns of Haridwar and Isha Rishikesh.
  • Two C-130J Super Hercules with 3 National Disaster Response Team (NDRF) teams have been deployed in the rescue operation.
  • According to the NDRRF’s general counsel, defense operations can take up to 2 days. Emergency crews managed to rescue 16 workers trapped in the tunnel.
  • An estimated 35 to 40 other employees are trapped in another tunnel. At the site of the Tapovan Vishnugad hydropower project, which is being built 5 km (3.1 miles) under the NTPC, rescue teams are trying to enter the tunnel to rescue at least 30 workers it says are trapped.
  • Authorities conducted a search and rescue operation for fear of injuries and issued warnings in all the districts adjoining Haridwar. Officials said 204 people were missing after the flood, 36 bodies were found, and 168 were still missing.
  • According to authorities, 10 out of 36 organizations have been identified. At least 30 people could be trapped in a tunnel at the site of an NTPC hydropower project in the Tapovan area of ​​Chamoli.
Nanda Devi National Glacier 3

Fig. 3: Show the Rescue Operation

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