Chamoli Disaster – UPSC Prelims

Chamoli Disaster:
  • In February 2021, a part of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off and flooded the Rishiganga river in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.
  • It led to massive flooding in the region that damaged many villages in its path and claimed at least 72 lives and 200 missing.
  • The flood also wiped out two hydroelectric power projects on their way.
Why did this disaster happen? As per Geological Survey of India report:
  • A large mass of snow, ice, and rock avalanche along with a hanging mass of rock had crashed into the Raunthi Garh valley floor.
  • Due to this, it crushed the combination of rock, snow, and ice causing a rapid flow downstream of Raunthi Garh and into the Rishiganga valley leading to the flash flood.
  • The flash flood, in turn, destroyed the 13.2 MW Rishiganga power plant and damaged the 520 MW Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel power project, in which tunnels several workers had been fatally trapped.
Major Factor behind this Flash Flood:
  • A major contributory factor for this flash flood was the unusually warm weather in the region. (heavy snowfall followed by a sudden warmer climate).
  • This may have possibly triggered this huge snow and rock avalanche/ landslide, causing a sudden domino effect of flash floods downstream.
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