Uttarakhand disaster information
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Uttarakhand: Debris forces river to change courseDC | Rashme Sehgal | 22nd Aug 2013
New Delhi: Experts believe that one of the key reasons why rivers in Uttarakhand are changing course is due to the accumulation of debris from largescale construction and mining going on along their banks.
Prof Shekhar Pathak, historian and expert on the Himalayan region, pointed out that the construction boom fuelled illegal sand and boulder mining from riverbeds across the Himalayan belt. This largescale extraction changed the slope of the riverbed forcing it to change its course.
Prof Pathak cited the example of Alaknanda river changing its course abruptly in June which saw it flowing through the Srinagar city. The huge quantity of silt and boulders that it was carrying saw its banks being raised by 40 feet.
The environment ministry and the PMO had been repeatedly warned against muck being allowed to accumulate along the river banks often because of the construction of huge tunnels to build the run-of-the- river dams thereby forcing the river to flow at higher levels.
Each of these projects generates millions of tonnes of muck. Scientists have calculated that one hydro project requires several lakhs truckloads to remove this muck. The cheapest way out is to dump this waste material into a river, he added.
This was confirmed by geologist Dr Naveen Junyal with the Physical Research Laboaratory, in Ahmedabad who pointed out that the massive 1893 and the 1970 floods in the Alaknanda did not rec-ord such high levels. The situation remains same with other rivers including the Mandakini, the Bhagirathi and the Dhauli Ganga.