Artificial Lake Bursts In Zanskar, People Evacuated To Safer Places

7 May 2015
The Daily Excelsior

Jammu: An artificial lake, which was created due to blockade of Phuktal river in Zanskar Sub-Division of Kargil district following massive landslide, burst early this morning damaging eight bridges and creating panic in the villages downstream in Kargil and Leh districts. As a precautionary measure, the administration in both these districts evacuated the people timely to the safer places as a result of which there was no loss of life. In the month of December last year, a massive landslide blocked Phuktal river resulting into accumulation of more than 30 million cubic meters of water and forming a huge lake upstream. Since formation of artificial lake posed severe danger to the lives and property of the people in the downstream of the river at Phuktal, Governor N N Vohra took up the issue with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). Accordingly, Union Cabinet Secretary constituted a Multi-Disciplinary Expert Group to evolve an action plan for dealing with the situation. After hectic efforts, a joint task force of the Army, Air Force and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) created a 75-meter-long channel through the landslide blockade to drain out water from the artificial lake in a controlled manner. However, elected representatives of the people from the Ladakh region expressed dis-satisfaction over the work carried out by the team on the ground that channel created to drain out water was not sufficient keeping in view volume of accumulated water. Their apprehensions turned true this morning when at around 8 am artificial lake burst due to melting of snow following rise in temperature. 'Due to increase in the mercury, snow on the upper reaches and frozen water in the lake started melting and resulted into sudden increase in the water level. The huge volume of water caused massive damages between Phuktwal and Padum creating panic among the people', official sources said. According to the reports, gushing waters damaged eight foot bridges and two motorable bridges, a school and created panic in the villages downstream. The district administration immediately sounded an alert in the area and the villagers were directed to move to safer places in view of the possibility of heavy flow of water from the lake. Deputy Commissioner Kargil, Hassan Khan along with Superintendent of Police and two experts of NDMA, who were incidentally camping in Kargil area, conducted aerial recee of the area after managing chopper. 'Except eight bridges and a school there are no other damages and water level has receded to normal', Mr Khan told EXCELSIOR late in the evening. Stating that there was no loss of live, the Deputy Commissioner said, 'due to timely action by the district administration in evacuating and alerting the people the loss to human lives and cattle heads could be prevented'. Not only in Kargil, even people in Khaltsi Sub-Division of Leh district residing in the vicinity of Zanskar river were evacuated to safer places soon after the news about bursting of Phuktal lake was received. 'We have evacuated 32 families to safer places to avoid loss of human lives', Deputy Commissioner Leh, Saughat Biswas said when contacted late this evening. Stating that water level has receded to normal, Mr Biswas said that in Leh district there was no report of damages due to heavy volume of water in Zanskar river. Meanwhile, Congress Legislature Party leader, Nawang Rigzin Jora said that bursting of artificial lake has established that NDMA had carried out shoddy works. 'Both inside the Assembly and outside the House I had forewarned the Government that work carried out by NDMA was mere eyewash and threat was looming large over the people', he said in a statement. He demanded that NDMA team must be taken to task for misleading the Government.