Phuktal lake burst causes extensive damages in Zanskar, Leh
Leh: The artificial lake formed at Phuktal River in Zanskar burst on Thursday causing an unprecedented flash-flood which washed away dozens of bridges, houses, school building, guesthouse, cultivable lands in Zanskar and cultivable land belonging to the villagers of Nimmo in Leh.
When the disastrous flash-floods reached Nimmo at around 8:30 PM, it finally lost its momentum because of the dam of the Nimo Bazgo Hydel project at Alchi from where the NHPC authorities could release the water in a controlled manner which literally averted any damage to the villages situated on the banks of river Indus.
Last year a major landslide led to a creation of an artificial lake extending about 15 km upstream in the Phuktal River. According to reports, the J & K government informed NDMA on January 20, 2015 that River Phuktal, a tributary of River Indus was blocked due to a major landslide. NDMA carried out its operation to ensure controlled release of the impounded water into the river downstream, and called it a successful operation after reportedly creating a channel 100m long and 2 m wide to release the water in a controlled manner.
However, NDMA’s operation was seen as operation befooling tactics in Ladakh and it drew opposition from several quarters. Many people of Ladakh, particularly of Zanskar, who have lost dozens of motorable and foot bridges blamed NDMA and concerned State and the Central Authorities for allegedly failing to take timely action which have avoided the loss suffered by the region due to the flash flood. The flood washed away 12 bridges including three motorable bridges in Lungnak valley and also the newly installed steel bridges of Nyaraks and Chilling- Kaya in Leh district.
CEC, LAHDC, Leh Rigzin Spalbar expressed his disappointment over the failure of NDMA and the Central Government in tackling the situation and said , “The assurance given by the NDMA and other concerned agencies were deception despite having taken the task on its on hand and incurred a huge expense to government exchequer, they have cheated the people living in this region as large chunk of agricultural land, livestock, infrastructures, and major bridges have been washed away. Only the NDMA under the Central Government is accountable for the massive destruction. He asked the Central Government to immediately assess the extent of loss. Assessment is also being done under LAHDC to claim compensation from NDMA/Central Government.
Despite opposition against its alleged failure, NDMA has issued a statement saying “NDMA is justifiably proud in saying that this operation was a first of its kind of an integrated operation carried out to avert a major disaster in an inhospitable terrain.”
Talking to the media Chief Engineer, NHPC, SK Sandhu at Nimo-Basgo Hydel Project at Alchi expressed his ecstasy and said it was so fortunate that lake burst in the morning so that there were no report of casualties of life as the authorities could alert the people and evacuate them on time. He informed that the water level was much higher than their expectation of 3-4 meter. Sandhu confirmed that the power station is completely safe. Supply of electricity from the Hydel Project at Alchi has been however suspended since Thursday to avoid any damage to the machine. Sandhu said that the project will hopefully be put to operation again from tomorrow when the waters become cleaner and safer for machine.
Meanwhile, a high level team from State Govt. comprising Minister for PHE, Sukhnandan Chowdhary, Minister for Cooperative, Chhering Dorjey, Chairman State Legislative Council , Haji Inayat Ali and Vice Chairman, Khadi & Village Industry Board, Sayed Resvi on Friday took stock of the extent of damages in Zanskar and Leh caused in the wake of breaching of Phuktal lake. The Minister for Cooperative Chhering Dorje assured that the government would give additional money to both the Hill Councils of Leh and Kargil to restore the damaged infrastructures like motorable bridges and roads and also initiate necessary measures for rehabilitation of the families who suffered in Lungnak area of Zanskar.