Uttarakhand: Early warning system could have saved more lives at Joshimath
By Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar
As a part of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Joshimath, in Chamoli district, and hurtled downstream on the Dhauli Ganga, towards the Tapovan hydroelectric power project, some people idling under the Sunday sun in the mountains above first spotted the huge column of debris approaching and alerted workers at the site below with shouts and whistles.
If there had been cameras or sensors installed a few kilometres upstream, and the alarms had gone off even five or 10 minutes earlier, many more lives could have been saved. But that was not to be.
The Tapovan power project, in the making for 15 years, has already witnessed three major episodes of flooding but still doesn’t have a functional early-warning system that could have alerted its workers to an impending flood.
Thakkar, who is coordinator of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), acknowledged that “physically monitoring this entire area is not possible.” However, “satellite monitoring is possible and radars can also help minimise loss.”