Punjab: Moraine-dam lakes raise flash flood fears 

Big rise in number of such lakes due to fast melting glaciers has caused concerns of glacial lake outburst flood .

Published: 09th June 2018 11:12 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th June 2018 10:44 AM   |  A+A-

CHANDIGARH: The increasing number of fragile moraine-dammed glacial lakes in the Himalayas has raised the spectre of flash floods posing a threat to life and property downstream. According to a study conducted by the Himachal Pradesh State Council for Science Technology and Environment’s (HIMCOSTE) state centre for climatic change, there are 1017 such lakes in the region, up from 596 five years ago. 

A moraine is the accumulation of silt, sediment and debris from melting glaciers which eventually blocks the flow of the glacier and turns the accumulated water into a lake. But given the fragile nature of the moraine, these lakes could burst their banks with any further pressure, leading to flash floods, technically called glacial lake outburst floods or GLOFs.According to the study, the glaciers in the Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej river basins in the state are melting at a faster due to climate change, resulting in the formation of more and more such lakes.

According to the study, based on monitoring of all such lakes in different river basins using LISS III satellite data, the Sutlej had a total 642 lakes in 2017 compared to 391 in 2013. Similarly, the Chenab basin has 220 lakes, up from 116 in 2013, the Beas has 101, up from 67, and Ravi river basin has now 54 lakes compared to 22 in 2013. 

Adding to the concern is that the new lakes are mostly smaller (with areas less than 5 hectares) ones, which are more susceptible to GLOFs. Lakes with area of 10 hectares or less are seen as particularly vulnerable. The study states that a number of such glacial lake outburst floods have occurred in the Himalayas of Nepal recently, and notes that the 2013 flash floods in Uttarakhand occurred with bursting of the Parchu lake, which originates from Tibet in China. 

“A proper monitoring and change analysis of all such lakes in higher Himalayan region of the State is critical for averting any future eventuality in Himachal Pradesh, so that precious human lives are saved,” says Kunal Satyarthi, member secretary of Himachal Pradesh State Council for Science Technology and Environment. 

Stay up to date on all the latest The Sunday Standard news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp