New lake formation at bottom of glacier in Chamoli

Dehradun: A sudden surge in the water flow of the Dhauli Ganga river on Thursday afternoon brought the gruelling rescue mission at Tapovan tunnel where over 35 workers are feared to be trapped, to a grinding halt for some time.

No untoward incident has been reported and security personnel of the central agencies resumed the search operation when the water level of the Dhauli Ganga receded to the normal level.

The surge in the river water of Dhauli Ganga is an alarming sign since the locals have noticed a lake formation at the bottom of the glacier from where the avalanche created havoc on Sunday by causing massive flashflood and devastated a private power project on Dahuli Ganga near Reini village.

The impact of the snow avalanche was felt in area spread over 5 square miles of the region and over 205 people, mostly workers, are reported missing while 35 deaths have been recorded by the state government.

Prof YP Sundrial of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University said that a new lake has formed at the bottom of the glacier which is a very serious matter since the rescue work is still underway at the Tapovan Reni village area. Prof Sundrial has visited the area which the new lake has formed.

Echoing similar sentiment, a resident Pushkar Singh, of Paing village said, "The new lake formation is clearly visible at the far end of the snout close to the Dhauli Ganga and Rishi Ganga confluence. We have informed the local authorities about the new lake formation."

Meanwhile, residents of Reni village who were the witness of the flash flood are still in a state of shock and are reluctant to return to their homes. A villager Guddu Rana said, "All the villagers ran out of their house and did not return to their homes since Sunday morning because we had not seen or heard anything like what we saw from our own eyes. It was a huge misty wall of water with whirling boulders and stone, that was cruising on the river, downstream and devastating everything in the way." Like many villagers, Rana has shifted to Joshimath temporarily after the Sunday flashflood.

The joint teams of ITBP, army and SDRF, have cleared 100 metres of the passage of the tunnel which is over 1.9 km in length. "Clearing the sludge and boulder from the passage is a time-consuming exercise and the joint teams have cleared over 100 metres of the passage so far. We are also working the plan to drill the tunnel from other coordinates to approach the far end to reach the trapped workers," said a senior ITBP official, on the condition of anonymity. The security personnel noticed the surge in the river water at 2.30 pm and immediately a separate team was deputed to monitor the flow of the river water. "Our team drone cameras to monitor the water flow and after observing that the flow has receded the work of clearing the tunnel resumed," said the ITBP official.

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