Disaster management experts to arrive in Leh to tackle Phuktal river crisis

Phuktal River in Kargil Ladakh has transformed into an artificial lake due to landslides.

Written by Adil Akhzer | Srinagar | Published: February 6, 2015 1:25 pm

As threat of a breach in the Phuktal River in Kargil Ladakh, that has transformed into an artificial lake due to landslides looms large, a team of experts from National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) will arrive in Leh on Sunday, to inspect the site and also to recommend the measures to tackle the situation.

In January, the Phuktal River was completely blocked due to landslides that blocked the river. The blockage led to the formation of an artificial lake of a length of 14 kilometers. Officials say the dimensions of the artificial lake are increasing with every passing day.In view of threat, the authorities have also closed the Chadar Trak- a route opted by the tourists, to reach to the Zanskar Valley.

MLA Zanskar, Syed Mohammed Baqir told The Indian Express that the artificial lake is becoming a threat to more 4000 people living in more than five villages.

“If the government will not take immediate steps, it could turn out to be a big disaster. The administration has not taken any concrete step, so far,” he said. “If the reservoir of the lake would melt, it can lead to flash floods, which will damage the properties of the people living there and will also wash away all the bridges in the area.”

Earlier, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra urged the NDMA to constitute a multidisciplinary expert group, to evolve an action plan for dealing with the situation arising out of the landslides and consequential blockage of the river Phuktal in Zanskar.

“A team constituted by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) will arrive in Leh on February 8, which will then proceed to the blockage site for an inspection,” an official said. “The Committee, which would work out the modalities of mitigating the situation arising out of the blockage after physically visiting the site, will recommend measures.”

Deputy Commissioner in Kargil G Prasanna Ramaswamy, who is camping in Zanskar, confirmed that the few hamlets are facing a threat, due to the artificial lake. “We are prepared and have finalized strategy to meet any eventuality,” he said.

He, however, said that in case the water starts over-flowing once it melts, it will affect only a few hundred people. “We have provided training to the local police as well, so that they can tackle any kind of situation here,” he said, adding that the artificial lake formed is 14 km long.

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