New Delhi (NVI): At least 20 people are dead, six injured and 197 missing so far, as per the information received from Uttarakhand government, Union Home Minister Amit Shah told the Parliament today, adding that the Centre is monitoring the situation 24X7 at the highest level.
While presenting a report in the House on the damage caused by a massive avalanche in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand on Sunday, Shah said the avalanche occured at around 10 am on Sunday in the upper catchment of Rishiganga River, a tributary of Alaknanda River in Chamoli District of Uttarakhand, which led to sudden rise in the water level of Rishiganga River.
“Due to flash flood on account of rising of water levels in the river Rishiganga, a functional Rishiganga small hydro project of 13.2 MW was washed away. The flash flood also affected the under construction 520 MW NTPC Hydro Power Project downstream at Tapovan on the river Dhauli Ganga,” he said.
He further said that the Uttrakhand government has reported that there is no danger of downstream flooding and the rise in water level has been contained. Centre and the State Government have been keeping a strict vigil on the situation, he added.
“It is observed from the satellite data (Planet Lab) of 7th February, 2021 in catchment of Rishi Ganga river at the terminus of the glacier at an altitude of 5600 m a landslide triggered a snow avalanche covering approximately 14 sq.km area and causing a flash flood in the downstream of Rishi Ganga River,” he said.
The 197 missing people include 139 persons of under construction project of NTPC, 46 persons of the functional Rishi Ganga Project and 12 villagers, the Home Minister informed the Parliament.
Meanwhile, 12 persons from NTPC project have been rescued, who were trapped in a tunnel. 15 persons from Rishiganga project have also been rescued, Shah said.
In another tunnel of NTPC project, approximately 25–35 persons are suspected to have been trapped, he said. Rescue operation to evacuate these persons is going on war footing and all out efforts are simultaneously being made for searching missing persons.
Apart from that, the Uttarakhand state government has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh each for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the incident.
Due to washing away of one bridge, 13 villages around the place of incident have been cut off. In these villages necessary supplies and medical assistance is being provided through helicopters, he said.
On steps taken by the Central Government, Shah said both control rooms of Ministry of Home Affairs are monitoring the situation 24X7 and all possible help is being provided to the State.
Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Power, RK Singh, also visited the incident site today and supervised the rescue and relief work.
ITBP has set up their Control Room and 450 personnel of ITBP with all necessary equipment are engaged in rescue and relief operation. 5 NDRF teams have reached at the place of incident and are engaged in rescue and relief operation, Shah informed.
In addition to this 8 teams of Indian Army, including one Engineer Task Force (ETF), are carrying rescue operation at incident site. One Medical column with two ambulances are also deployed. One diving team of Indian Navy has also reached at incident site for rescue operation. 5 helicopters of Indian Air Force have also been engaged in rescue operation. A Control Room has been established at Joshimath.
In spite of adverse conditions at incident site, search and rescue operation is continuously being carried out. After continuous and tireless efforts since night, Army has cleared debris at opening of the tunnel to rescue the persons trapped in it, he said.
All the staff of the Central Water Commission deployed in Alaknanda and Ganga Basin up to Haridwar are on alert. One team of Sashtra Seema Bal (SSB) is also deployed at incident site. Team of Snow & Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) /DRDO has also reached at the site for surveillance and reconnaissance. CMD, NTPC has reached at the place of incident, he added.