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Uttarakhand Glacier Burst: NTPC’s Hydro power plant destroyed by flash floods 

Three days have passed since flash floods hit parts of Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district damaging among other structures an NTPC Hydro Power Project on the river Dhauli Ganga. Satellite images now reveal the extent of the damage caused to the 480 MW Tapovan-Vishnugad hydropower plant and the 13.2 MW under-construction Rishiganga Hydel Project.

According to the latest inputs, workers have been reported missing from the Tapovan-Vishnugad hydro power plant site since February 7.

The first set of high-resolution satellite images of the National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC) under-construction Tapovan-Vishnugad Hydro power project captured on Tuesday showed the extent of damage caused by the flash floods during the avalanche in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district. The satellite images suggest that the majority of the hydro power project has been clogged by the extensive silt caused by the powerful downstream landslide.

Clogging of the debris at the site has made the rescue operations extremely difficult. A comparison of the satellite images taken on Tuesday with the one taken earlier in November 2018 shows the increased water level in Dhauliganga River as well as a pattern of soil detachment caused along its banks.

In the satellite images, one can see how widespread mud/silt has clogged much of the river around the hydro plant project. Dozens of trucks and other vehicles engaged in rescue operations can be seen gathered along the road near the river.

The pictures also give a sense of the ongoing rescue operations in extremely difficult terrain. Dozens of trucks and rescue vehicles parked along Dhauliganga are captured in these images.

The eastern part of the plant including the barrage on its north appears to be most damaged by the powerful downwards stream, while the southern part looks submerged with water and debris.

Officials have recovered 32 bodies while more than 150 people are still missing. Rescue operations are still underway in a number of areas, including a tunnel in Tapovan. The Uttarakhand government has announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each for the families of the deceased.

In his address to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that satellite data from February 7 shows that a landslide triggered a snow avalanche in the catchment of river Rishi Ganga river at the terminus of a glacier at an altitude of 5,600 m.

Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat, on the other hand, thanked the ITBP, NDRF and other agencies engaged in search and rescue operations in various parts of the state.

Union power minister RK Singh visited Tapovan on Tuesday and said that the avalanche has caused an estimated loss of Rs 1,500 crores to the NTPC project. The project was earlier scheduled to be commissioned in 2023 which now appears to be impossible.

A multiagency search and rescue operation is ongoing to rescue dozens of workers still believed to be trapped inside the tunnel which has become inaccessible due to clogging of silt.

The satellite images captured by space firm Maxar’s World View-1 satellite suggest that it the task to completely desist the plant in near future is going to be a difficult one.


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